For quite some time, fans have hotly anticipated Tomboy, the new release from Panda Bear, a critically acclaimed artist and a co-founder of the successful band, Animal Collective. Highly regarded for his distinctive style, Panda Bear — born Noah Lennox — releases more of what fans love, albeit with a darker, ghostlier twist.
The album starts off with “You Can Count on Me,” an ethereal song enveloping the listener in deep echoes and reverberating soundscapes. “Want to put a bubble ’round you,” Lennox croons, capturing the entrancing feeling of the song.
Next up is the more upbeat “Tomboy,” the album’s title track. It starts off with deeply echoing percussion, reverberating across vast distances. The music is incredibly unique, but it’s difficult to understand any of the lyrics. Though it’s clear that Lennox is attempting to speak to his audience on a deeper level, it proves difficult to interpret his message.
Swirling bells and synthesizers coupled with a tribal tambourine and sounds of crashing ocean waves create “Surfer’s Hymn.” Pleasantly cacophonous, the song is one of the standouts on the album, not to mention a good showcase of Lennox’s voice. The ambient soundscapes continue in grand fashion throughout the remainder of the tracks. Booming drums, resonating across endless space in “Last Night at the Jetty”; Lennox’s trancelike monotone and power chords in “Drone”; driving synthesizers and clapping in “Alsatian Darn”; haunting vocals in “Scheherezade”; bubbly ethereality in “Friendship Bracelet” — Lennox ingeniously experiments with a whole new sound.
Strangely alluring, the ambient, echoing, eerie music is difficult to understand yet impossible to ignore. Panda Bear clearly is in his own world, creating sounds and manipulating instruments in brilliant ways. Tomboy is an album that will either hit or miss, but regardless of the public’s reception, it is an incredibly novel album.