Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) released his fifth studio album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, came after great anticipation early at the turn of 2015. The follow up to 2011’s Tomboy was teased throughout 2014 when Domino Recording announced the albums conception in early 2014. Panda Bear released, Mr Noah, a four track EP to preclude the album with only “Mr Noah” making it onto the actual album.
Panda Bear draws upon some of the styling found in Animal Collective of distorted and sometimes inaudible vocals. Coupled with his usual neo-psychedelic beats, tones, sounds, and all the other bat shit crazy (I mean that in the most endearing sense) production Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper offers ample substance for the ears to digest. The opening track “Sequential Circuits” bubbles and twirls giving way to “Mr Noah” launching the album into its true form. “Mr Noah” begins with dogs howling (or almost squealing) leading into wave like lyrics that wash over the listener, “He doesn’t want to get out of bed unless he’s justified”, perhaps hinting at some turmoil of getting older
Themes of the album jump out right away (the album title being exhibit a), but Lennox told Pitchfork he attempted to keep the album non-specific to his life, endeavoring to relate to all audiences alike. Panda Bear prods at some of the bigger questions life poses to all walks, “Selfish Gene” in a slow repetitious tone utters “If it comes to fill those spaces/ Only you can fill those spaces”. An ode to self, hammers home the fact at least for me none one else can create your happiness besides yourself. Listening to “Come To Your Senses” the theme of self-realization/ reflection comes full circle when “Are You Mad?” rings over and over in the refrain.
Despite some serious introspective tracks, Animal Collective loves can find solace in “Boys Latin” and “Crosswords”. The varying up tempo beats following rhythmic vocals and the ample sounds the listener just can’t put their finger on reflect AC’s dancier tunes. Over all Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper doesn’t stack up with Tomboy as well as I would have hoped, but that doesn’t not discount it as an album unworthy of shelving in your collection. Plus, if you were as fortunate as I to see him live, Panda’s set with his new visualizer leaves the viewer tongue tied, but his live stuff is a whole other beast for a different day