Quick Review (LP): Tomboy by Panda Bear

Panda Bear
Paw Tracks; 2011

My Rating: B (68/100)

Best Tracks: "Slow Motion", "Surfer’s Hymn", "Last Night at the Jetty", "Friendship Bracelet", "Benfica", “Afterburner”

Is Noah Lennox hiding behind the wall of sound?

– One of my favorite recent trends in band names – BEARS!!!! Seriously, how does this kind of thing happen? You’ve got Panda Bear, Grizzly Bear, Bear in Heaven, Minus the Bear, etc. And then there are the beach/surfer bands: Beach House, Best Coast, Surfer Blood, Wavves, Beach Fossils, etc. Anyone want to start a band with me called Polar Bear Suntan? We are guaranteed to spark an indie revolution!
– What is with over-processing vocals? Especially when people have decent voices? It makes it so difficult to connect on a personal level. I have this problem going all the way back to My Bloody Valentine.
– I like "Slow Motion" quite a bit. Sort of a world music vibe there.
– The vocal harmonies are very interesting. I suppose that’s one reason this guy is such a critical darling? I like the Fleet Foxes harmonies better though. One guy harmonising with himself doesn’t have the same effect as three or four different voices, with all their subtle (and not so subtle) differences.
– There’s something intangible about these songs, as neat as they may be. Still, I have a feeling this record will grow on me over the next few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve re-evaluated my score come December.
– It seems to me that Panda Bear holds the same fascination for critics as My Bloody Valentine, which I honestly still don’t entirely understand. Yes, both acts make gorgeous music for audiophiles, but in my mind, they leave something to be desired in terms of narrative and connection. 
– Here’s the deal: I appreciate density and the use of heavy reverb at times, but Lennox, like many current indie bands, sounds like he’s hiding behind it all. I can tell there’s some serious Beach Boys influence going on, but on that group’s best work, there was an immediacy that was simply arresting. The songs here sound obscured and distant, and at times entirely void of emotion.

Cohesion (4/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Songs (4/5)