Panda Bear
Tomboy


4.5
superb

Review

by Daniel Smith USER (21 Reviews)
April 13th, 2011 | 23 replies | 4,431 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nemo saltat sobrius.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

My high-school Latin teacher (I’ll dub him Mr. Aphorism, for safety’s sake) was a treasure trove of verbose obscurities. Even now, three years since I last set foot in his chilly academic harbor, I remember his mannerisms, his hatred of scrying, that is, staring at a blank quiz in hopes of psychically foretelling the correct answers, and his rich vocabulary. But what made Mr. Aphorism such a natural with language was his ability to pull words and phrases out of whatever magician’s hat he wore, so to speak, and apply them, like jigsaw pieces, to the current lecture. Now, I’m no fancy emulator by any means – I’m that guy who fucks jokes up, leaves out the important details – but there’s something he used to say about how certain works written in his favorite dead tongue would “titillate his risibles.” And I hate to force the transition from writing about Mr. Aphorism’s semi-creepy diction to writing about this Tomboy album, but that’s precisely what Noah Lennox, known professionally as Panda Bear, is doing in the year 2011: titillating your risibles, or, in common English, splashing a little artificial summer into your life.

Remember the first time you hit the three-minute mark on “Dance Yrself Clean” from last year’s This Is Happening, LCD Soundsystem’s swan song record? Or blasting Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix with the windows rolled down, singing along, beating the steering wheel? Or connecting with any album released in between April and June, realizing it would define your sweaty, blissful afternoons by the poolside and your nostalgic summer nights? If so, guess what? You’ve experienced the sort of aural titillation Panda Bear achieves with Tomboy, similar to the familiar catharsis manifested by “One More Time” at a late-night dance party, though less immediate. Tomboy is not a summer album in the traditional social sense: girls in colorful plastic sunglasses aren’t going to burn “Slow Motion” onto their beloved mix CD’s, and its subtle contents aren’t going to attract the proverbial party bugs to the dance floor, but I’m just fine with that. Merriweather Post Pavilion already exists, what with its “My Girls” and its “Summertime Clothes,” proof that Noah Lennox can “do summer” just as skillfully as Rebecca Black can recite days of the week. And for all the flak surrounding Lennox’s samey melodic style, he isn’t all that into formulae. Yesterday was Person Pitch. Today it is…

Tomboy, duh. Filled to the brim with Panda’s echo-laden harmonies, heavy tribal beats, and trippy background noises, not to mention his recent penchant for lyricism, this is undeniably the child of Animal Collective’s most gifted (or at least consistent) member. Person Pitch and Merriweather were celebrations, though, albeit celebrations of mundanity. And while Tomboy does continue to stray away from the collective’s early love of freak folk and its cryptic obsessions, it’s so much more of a reflective effort. Why else would Lennox immediately vault his vocals to the forefront on “You Can Count On Me?” True, he wants for you to enjoy the music…but he yearns, he aches to be heard on a more emotional level, which very well might account for the song’s somewhat bare structure. He’d like “to put a bubble” around somebody – the classic ‘you’ – but understands “a secret child is just a silly trick who grows up to lose that force field switch.” And so, by pairing impassioned verses with an ear for melody, by reducing the swirl of samples present on previous releases, Panda Bear delivers an album with few wasted seconds, “Drone,” of course, being the primary killer here. It’s not that the song “wastes” time accomplishing its point (that it drones) per se; in fact, it’s a pleasant-enough song. It lacks, however, the innate wonder found in Person Pitch equivalent “I’m Not.”

But lose not your faith, young hipster children! So what if Panda Bear’s Tomboy isn’t the album of the year (a term which I believe, by the way, is skewing the way we approach, listen to, and re-listen to new music)? Look to the spring-loaded “Slow Motion,” resurrected from its bland B-side version on the “Tomboy” single to become one of the record’s more durable cuts, and realize there’s magic in this record. Some songs, like the aforementioned “Drone,” and like “Scheherazade,” aren’t as memorable as, say, “Friendship Bracelet” or “Afterburner,” two back-to-back exercises in the psychedelic realm, the former embracing a chill sound not unlike Merriweather’s “Taste,” the latter opting for something much, much, noisier. And you know what? Those final two minutes of Tomboy’s penultimate track, when the wall-of-sound floodgates finally burst open, are apology enough for any misstep contained within this winner. Then, at the last minute, Panda Bear confirms it, that Tomboy is nothing short of excellent: closer “Benfica” concludes the album in a similar manner to its exposition, with a vocal-heavy drifter. “Some might say that to win is not all that it’s about,” Lennox intones before correcting himself: “But there is not a thing more true or natural than wanting to win.” It’s not until he climbs that final octave, though, with that final, dreamy line, “There’s nothing more to life,” that Tomboy attempts to transcend, in a single titillating moment, everything Lennox’s collective has put out to date. It comes within inches of eclipse, too. You’ll never feel quite sober again.



Recent reviews by this author
The Flaming Lips The TerrorOf Montreal Paralytic Stalks
Brad Paisley This Is Country MusicFucked Up David Comes to Life
Destroyer KaputtTalking Heads Talking Heads: 77
user ratings (331)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Lucid CONTRIBUTOR (1.5)
Alternate rating: 4.5. Bear with me please....

J. Ponton EMERITUS (2)
The question really is, then, what feelings are we exactly trying to feel and why?...

Adam Downer STAFF (4)
I believe it was the philosopher Tare who told us: "Feeling is good."...

Andrew Kaster (3)
"When there are hard times, I'll step it up."...

related reviews

Young Prayer

Person Pitch

Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
April 13th 2011



6993 Comments


That first paragraph was a nice story.

conradtao
Emeritus
April 13th 2011



2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

what a wonderful review. pos pospospspos

Drsmith4
April 13th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

thanks, conrad! much appreciated.

This was written for my school newspaper, but I figured it would translate fine on Sputnik. I'm actually sitting in the editing meeting right now, and some biddie's complaining that music reviewers are too damn pretentious.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
April 13th 2011



6993 Comments


complaining that music reviewers are too damn pretentious


SLAP THEM

Drsmith4
April 13th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

first neg hell yeah!

Tyrael
April 14th 2011



20823 Comments


I disagree wholeheartedly but this was a wonderful read. Pos.

Gyromania
April 14th 2011



15482 Comments


One of the best reviews I've read in recent memory, you articulate your points very well. Have a pos!

duckpride82
April 20th 2011



213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wonderful review indeed. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I like this better than 'Person Pitch.'

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
May 27th 2011



7023 Comments


This is the best review on here for Tomboy. Shame that it didn't get more attention.

Digging: FKA twigs - LP1

Rev
June 27th 2011



9404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Soundtrack to my summer nights

Uranium
June 27th 2011



7079 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The album version of 'You can count on me' didn't live up to the version leaked a few months prior to the albums release. That is my number one complain.

psykonaut
June 27th 2011



3913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really? i much prefer the album versions, oh well

Drsmith4
June 27th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

All I know is that the album version of Slow Motion took a five-minute shit on its single counterpart.

Uranium
June 27th 2011



7079 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

interesting. what do you like more about the album version??

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2011



15730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh god everything have you listened to them both with headphones?

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

Uranium
June 27th 2011



7079 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The production is better on the album, but I think the choppiness is what I liked about the early release

Rev
June 27th 2011



9404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thinking about bumping this up :3

Drsmith4
June 27th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Do it.

Rev
June 27th 2011



9404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Feels good, man

Drsmith4
June 27th 2011



1715 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Feels good, man

BUT

Tomboy better

AnCo joke would be good if it were true, but who am I kidding? Feels is spectacular.




You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy