From 2007 to 2011 the indie world sat patiently while Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear) sat patiently and wrote his fourth full LP in his home of Lisbon, Portugal.
In the four-year interim since his previous LP “Person Pitch,” countless bedroom artists with laptops and a synthesizer (see: chillwave) took off where Lennox’s sunshine-hazy-vintage-reverb ideas left off.
Toro Y Moi, Washed Out, Neon Indian, Ducktails – the list goes on and on. After pushing back the release of his new album, “Tomboy,” more than a few times, Lennox goes back to his old sonic stomping ground with an expectably lysergic-coated collection of tunes, which released on Tuesday, April 12.
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That’s not to say he hasn’t grown musically, because he has.
With each new Panda Bear album comes an entirely innovative, yet strangely nostalgic, atmosphere and approach.
What hasn’t changed is his intimate and unabashed delivery. With Person Pitch, Lennox sang, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” on the track “Good Girl/Carrots.”
But it wasn’t a gimmick or condescension – albeit childish, he sang it with complete sincerity.
The rest of his lyrics aren’t worth much at face value, either. He sings, “What’s the point of making? The making’s our only hope. It’s not late, it’s not too late,” on “Afterburner.”
It’s his delivery, his passion and his feel-good-laid-back aesthetic that make otherwise artfully scarce Lennox’s affinity towards dumping buckets of reverb on his ethereal vocals is still the front running facet of his mixes.
On “Surfer’s Hymn,” waves topple and crash onto Lennox as he sings, “Out on the water, A rider can ready/Though waves comes crashing.”
It creates the kind of smooth-flowing, feel-good and washed-out vibe that made him a ground breaker in the structure of “Tomboy” as an album is a definite departure from the framework of “Person Pitch,” which was essentially structured around two 12-minute songs, “Bros” and “Good Girl/Carrots,” with five other shorter ones to weave in and out of the centerpiece tunes.
With mostly four-minute songs, his recognizable approach of blending pop and experimental music shows up on “Tomboy.”
Lennox’s influences range everywhere from crooner Roy Orbison to reggae titan Lee Perry, to electronic mastermind Aphex Twin, according to the liner notes on “Person Pitch.”
With this in mind, he’s definitely a master of musical symbiosis on “Tomboy” – especially considering the experimental slow-burner “Drone” is on the same album as the pop influenced, hip-hop low end driven “Slow Motion.”
Instrumentation also plays a role into the framework of Tomboy.
Here, he has expanded beyond samplers and looping; his primary instrument and method with Person Pitch.
Lennox gets his hands dirty by creating his own beats and guitar riffs instead of digging through records to find the sounds.
In this respect, he has grown.
He has expanded beyond the limitations of sampling and looping to create a texture and ambience that, no matter how often attempted, cannot be duplicated.
It is unmistakably his own and with that in mind, Lennox can take as long as he needs with LP number five.
Aaron Mitta can be contacted at email@example.com