Panda Bear - Buoys - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Panda Bear - Buoys

by Mark Moody Rating:7 Release Date:2019-02-08
Panda Bear - Buoys
Panda Bear - Buoys

Reuniting with Person Pitch collaborator, Rusty Santos, Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) has stated he’s trying to bring some younger fans into the fold on his latest album, Buoys.  I believe the set he is targeting are Millennials and the even younger Gen Z.  What he’s more likely to capture in the first few tracks here are the toddler set.  Leadoff track and single ‘Dolphins’ repeats a water drop loop after a digital dying Pac Man whimper to start the song.  The next track, ‘Cranked’, continues on with a shower of laser guns and drum machines.  The type of songs and sound effects little kids insist on hearing over and over again.  My own brood when little wanted to hear The Flaming Lips’ ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2’ over and over and over again.  It’s the one where the battle ensues, not the song that leads up to it.

In spite of the gimmickry though, both songs are also rather captivating.  Try as you might to avoid referring to Brian Wilson and his boys (the album title doesn’t help), Lennox makes it nearly impossible.  With watery washes all over the album, layered harmonies, and ‘Dolphin’’s siren call “to the sea” it has become to be expected.  Like last year’s vinyl only A Day With The Homies, Lennox keeps things simpler on Buoys.  The melodies are deliberate on tracks like the shimmery ‘Token’ rather than a by-product of piled upon ideas that made Person Pitch and some of Animal Collective’s best moments so addictive.  ‘Token’ also takes the award for wonkiest lyric in “a slap on the jelly ass”, but with Panda Bear, it’s more about the sound of the words than their meaning.

Seen through Lennox’s aqueous lens and recorded in the port city of Lisbon, the splishes and splashes continue throughout the album.  The folky melody and echoey vocals of the nautically themed title track makes for a standout.  ‘Crescendo’ is the densest of the tracks and its messed with vocals recall the Auto-Tune experimentation of Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth.  And even though album closer ‘Home Free’ is less obviously inspired by the ocean, the bobbing undercurrent of the song feels like an homage to the album’s title. 

Overall, Buoys makes for an enjoyable listen and production wise it sounds fantastic.  It would make for a solid soundtrack to a rag-tag pirate flotilla the next time you are out in one. We see now that with Lennox’s absence from Animal Collective’s Tangerine Reef, he was working on his own efforts under the sea.  Buoys is certainly more accessible than that effort and it’s clear Lennox can be credited with the group’s strongest ear for melody.  All that being said, it’s a pleasant enough album but not likely to bring a legion of new fans or be singled out as one of his best.  Certainly, there are a good handful of songs here worthy of adding to your favorite AnCo playlist.


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