[one_half last=”yes”]PANDA BEAR
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
Label: Domino Records
01. Sequential Circuits
02. Mr. Noah
03. Davy Jones’ Locker
05. Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker
06. Boys Latin
07. Come To Your Senses
08. Tropic Of Cancer
09. Shadow Of The Colossus
10. Lonely Wanderer
11. Principe Real
12. Selfish Gene
13. Acid Wash
NBHAP Rating: 4.5/5
Ruminations over the forthcoming release of a new PANDA BEAR record have been whispering on the winds for some time – and at last, it’s wafted our way. The follow-up to 2011’s eclectic pop dream Tomboy, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is a slightly different beast to its predecessor; it’s risen up out of the heavy sea and grown wings. Released as a significant portion of the world is tucked away in wintery slumber, it’s the slow eyes of a new year opening, a potent rumbling of green in the tips of stripped branches.
The record takes on a wonderfully cyclical form; it’s easy to listen to on repeat, ebbing in and outward like a tide. A few of the tracks are excellent standalones (such as the previously released Mr. Noah and Boys Latin), but the magic really begins to fly in the manner in which the pieces melt together, absorbing and lapping at one another’s edges. Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper also comes across as somewhat cyclical in theme; with a rather ominous title pinned to its lapels, the opening tracks are tinged with a vague darkness that gives way to light by the latter half of the album. A mingling of melancholy and naivety has been a consistent source of beauty in all of Lennox’s work to date, and Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is the pinnacle.
Sequential Circuits begins the thread, trickling in with a gurgle. Vocals pile breathily on top of one another, the space between them oozing and drifting, cloud formations in a potent, belching sky – and then record trailblazer Mr. Noah soars in, circling like a satellite before digging in heels and grinding in gears, an almost industrial jaggedness tinging the constant turning of Lennox’s voice, his words barely penetrable through their pull and distortion.
It’s Boys Latin, the record’s midway turning-corner, that really steals the breath. Building upon itself like the watery segments of an ocean choir, it’s an under-the-breath dreamscape harmony, the swirl of the subconscious brimming over to reality surface, taking long and gentle breaths as it presses forward. Shadow Of The Colossus is a tiny glitch of an interlude, before the album wraps up with the light-drenched Selfish Gene and jingle-jangle anthem Acid Wash, a robust stride of a finish that leaves one invigorated to roll back to the beginning.
Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is thoughtful and intelligent, a technically acrobatic creation. There’s a real craftsmanship to each song, the whole stitched together from carefully chosen and pummelled-out fragments. It’s sketched in and filled out like an ink-and-watercolour, colours running and seeping against finer, harder lines; a childlike play with textures, patterns and drumbeats. Indeed, the visual element is strong in a more tangible sense – from the acid-tripped, almost-holographic cover art to the heartbreakingly beautiful Boys Latin video, the music is supported by imagery that brings the record to a holistic creative vision.
An intricately woven web of eclectic electronica dusted over with rubbings of pop sensibility, ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’ is Noah Lennox’s masterpiece.