Panda Bear, born Noah Lennox, has become a prevalent figure within the indie music community. A purveyor of genres, Lennox and his artistic counterpart Avey Tare (Michael Portner) have created some of the wildest and most original compositions from the mysterious space they seem to occupy in the music world. Animal Collective’s work, before and including Merriweather Post Pavilion, have been heralded as masterful works of experimental pop and folk music.
But somewhere somehow, Lennox’s solo work started to overshadow Animal Collective’s output. Well, not somehow. Person Pitch was released in 2007. The single greatest Animal Collective record was a hazy, anti-social and weird Panda Bear solo LP. Like Loveless is to shoegaze, Person Pitch, undeniably Lennox’s magnum opus, would later become the defining psych-pop record of the 21st Century thus far.
Lennox continued by putting out two good, verging on great, albums. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, he dropped A Day with The Homies, a 29-minute EP, just a week ago today. With this, and a sudden increase in social media activity, Lennox is essentially drafting up buzz, for what might be his 5th solo LP.
With that in mind, Homies could possibly be a bunch of outtakes from the forthcoming album, or perhaps not. Regardless, the tracks hold up on their own. While generally disconnected thematically, sonically everything blends into one, as is trademark of an Animal Collective member.
Every track sways back and forth, warped and wrapped by sounds from nature and bizarre sonic textures. Lennox’s best Brian Wilson impression comes through again, like ever, transforming the obfuscated hazy production into something ethereal. Choir boy vocals ran through an SP-404 delay makes for a dreamy soundscape in which you can easily lose yourself.
In my personal copy of Person Pitch, the inner booklet lists a bunch of artists who have directly influenced Lennox’s work. It is perhaps strange that Lennox, who dabbles in all forms of psychedelic music, would be so heavily inspired by techno musicians such as Wolfgang Voigt and Deep House architect Luomo amongst many others. Then again perhaps it isn’t. The majority of Lennox’s work has had a prevalent ‘driving force’ behind it, reminiscent of common techno beat patterns.
Homies is however, very upfront about this, with a bouncy kick drum and a buzzy bass on opener ‘Flight’, continuing the ‘Mr. Sonic Boom’ sounds off of Lennox’s previous solo effort Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. Despite all the highs of this album, dreamy soundscapes can only do so much. Structurally it is inherently deficient, in the sense that is only an EP. That said, Animal collective have had standout EP’s such as Fall Be Kind. Though Lennox’s current shtick, the ‘busy for the sake of being busy’ sound, is occasionally annoying here; he still this manages to make it a more memorable experience than one of the last two Animal Collective albums.
On Homies, Lennox essentially gives us a taste of the upcoming album. Yet, it stands rather well on its own. Whatever Noah has been brewing over the last couple of years, I want it.
A DAY WITH THE HOMIES
Artist: Panda Bear. Label: Domino. Top Tracks: Flight; Sunset. For Fans Of: Animal Collective; Flaming Lips; Deerhunter. 29 minutes