Panda Bear
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper



by Brandon Taylor USER (40 Reviews)
February 18th, 2015 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Control over chaos, clarity over distortion.

The first time I listened to Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper I was walking around a bay at dusk and I couldn’t help but feel like it was the perfect accompaniment to the setting. The mellow, lilting chords that open up the album on “Sequential Circuits” parallel gentle waves washing onto the shore, and Noah Lennox’s voice is as crystal clear as the nighttime air. Shimmering reflections of lights in the water are the perfect visual for the chorale-evoking harp in “Tropic Of Cancer” and the impressionistic piano riff in “Lonely Wanderer”. Those two tracks particularly form a beautifully serene pairing on an album that consistently emphasises control over chaos and clarity over distortion. Panda Bear remains eccentric without pushing the boundaries of his signature sound, choosing to refine and master it instead, and the results indicate that it’s a fantastic decision.

For example, the entire concept of second single “Boys Latin” is out-of-the-box, but the vocal melody, winding and dizzying as it is, always stays in the realm of consonance and pleasantness. It’s a simple yet impossibly pretty song, which, it must be said, on an album supposedly about meeting the grim reaper, seems like a bit of a contradiction. Moments of darkness on this album are rare, and usually either vague, like the jumbled lyrics of “Tropic of Cancer” (which do indeed reference the illness, that much at least is clear), or subtle, like the robotic synths that ominously gurgle under the polished vocal melody on “Crosswords”. Overall this album sounds more like a soundtrack to enlightenment rather than oblivion, but as I write this sentence I realise that might be the artist’s intention.

In the interests of not misleading you all I must disclose that I’ve probably made this album sound more delicate than it actually is. The crunchy and frantic synth-led first single “Mr Noah” and the unexpectedly funky “Principe Real” provide welcome counterpoints to the crystalline bliss of much of the record, showing that there’s enough grunt to match the grace. However, there’s a reason this album is so successful and it’s the same reason one enjoys walking beachside during the sunset – they both offer frequent, dazzling moments of intricately detailed and totally consuming beauty.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
February 18th 2015


Album Rating: 4.0

Admittedly this isn't my best review and it's pretty brief, but feedback is still welcomed.

February 18th 2015


I've found it difficult to describe AnCo albums, they're definitely hard to review. I think the setting piece you gave in the first paragraph was perfect for what you were trying to achieve.

Excellent write up, I've been spinning this since its conception and it's been very durable in my rotation.

Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

very very good review

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