Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

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  • Since the sparse, forest-folk ode to his late father on 2004's Young Prayer, Panda Bear has been the most intriguing voice in the Animal Collective crew. With that record's naked moans of loss, followed by the sample-littered Brian Wilsonisms of 2007's Person Pitch and the droney, amorphous dub of 2011's Tomboy, Panda Bear has continued to shift the aural contours of his records in a way that mirrors the always evolving sonic mayhem of Animal Collective itself. For his fourth solo album, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, the musical wanderlust and playfulness of those three albums has settled into a comfortable, lived-in sphere. Across the album's 13 tracks, Lennox combines the sample-based psychedelia of his past efforts with stark songcraft and swampy electronic backdrops that reach back to Animal Collective's masterwork, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Recorded in Lisbon, his adopted home, and, as with Tomboy, co-produced by Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, much of the material was road-tested on tour last year and appeared online under various working titles. There's a sense of command beneath these variously-hued creations that makes Grim Reaper Panda Bear's most kaleidoscopic record to date. "Mr. Noah" sounds like a throwback to Strawberry Jam-era Animal Collective, with its breakbeats, dizzying whirs and waves of growling noise. Lennox sings over this chaos with typically mesmeric lines like "this dog got bit on a leg / he got a really big chip on a leg." "Boys Latin" was one of the most talked about songs from Panda Bear's tour, and it lives up to its reputation on record, a smear of hallucinatory reverb with Lennox's voice echoing off every surface of its noisy blur. "Principe Real," named after a famous park in Lisbon, exudes a kind of first-dawn peacefulness, with its lines about sheep dogs nipping at your heels and "as gentle as a sleeping baby boy." Sheltered within this sonic playground, almost sequenced as an intermission before its final act, are songs that recall the mournfulness of Lennox's earliest work. "Tropic Of Cancer," with its sampled harps and a kind of silent hum broken only by wind sounds, looks back to the announcement of his father's brain cancer as Lennox sings "it's all in the family and then you sneak it all away / sick has to eat well too." On its heels comes "Lonely Wanderer," whose Debussy sample and star-gazing electronics apply balm to wounds just reopened. It's a testament to Lennox's dexterity that these brief detours into soft introspection only enhance the wondrous breadth and vision of Panda Bear Versus The Grim Reaper.
  • Tracklist
      01. Sequential Circuits 02. Mr Noah 03. Davy Jones' Locker 04. Crosswords 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