“Tomboy” – Panda Bear
It’s difficult to get excited about anything in the indie game these days when everybody’s using the same tricks to express their tortured hand-wringing in the most generic way possible. And look, you could say the same thing about pop music but at least Benny Blanco can drop a beat to the middle-class condition so your Saturday morning toast-and-headlines routine doesn’t feel so comatose. Even so, Noah Lennox does good like Superman on Tomboy, pushing a solid addition to his catalog and being kind of interesting in the process by leaning harder on the guitars and benching the samples.
Panda Bear came out the gate, critically- not chronologically-speaking, with Person Pitch in 2007 and showed that the Animal Collective co-founder had a head for arrangement even outside the pack. Lennox is as much a technician as an artiste, paying mind to the formula behind the feeling, but the lays it down so seamlessly that you can’t feel the clicks behind it. Never mind the X’s and O’s, just trust that it’s accomplished and you’ll hear it. You can hear Lennox flexing everywhere, like on “Friendship Bracelet” with its oscillating vocals and animal calls looped in.
The Collective’s opus Merriweather Post Pavillion threatens to overshadow everything they do past its hyperbolic hype circus but Tomboy stands on its own, as intricately interesting as its predecessors. At worst it justifies how much faith and enthusiasm people put into championing Lennox et al., and at best provides fifty more minutes of sensational music for fans of albums that’re a little bit different.
– Jake Cleland