Panda Bear: Tomboy (Inertia)

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Panda Bear: Slow Motion
Panda Bear: Tomboy (Inertia)

At an indie.rock festival in Auckland earlier this year which saw nervous student radio kids blinking into the light, a friend turned to me and noted the number of young bands these days which name themselves after small furry animals. Sort of safe, sort of adolescent, just letting go of the teddy bear perhaps?

True.

Panda Bear -- aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective -- isn't quite in that delicate company but rather a sonic experimenter whose previous album Person Pitch of four years ago alerted a discerning audience to his potential.

This new album extends those experiments in sound by bringing in guitars, dense percussion and so on alongside the synths but while the textures are pleasingly pumped out there seems also the paucity of song ideas to accompany them.

You can't turn away from the sonic clashes of Slow Motion here which reveals an interest in dub and hip-hop production, but -- as with so much, like Surfer's Hymn and Last Night at the Jetty which nod to the Beach Boys with none of their wistful charms -- Lennox barely crafts a melody to go with it, rather relying on his stacked up, multi-tracked choral style in the middle distance.

This makes for an album which sounds big on drama but conspicuously fails to deliver on the promise.

Over the long haul this is an album which sounds more like a series of fascinating experimental songs in search of a home, or an editor.

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