Album Review: Panda Bear – Buoys

Thursday 07th, February 2019 / 17:09
By Cole Parker

Panda Bear – Buoys
Domino Records

Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear, has put out a wide collection of music in the past two decades, both as a solo artist and as a member of famed and acclaimed psychedelic pop group, Animal Collective. His music has mostly stayed within the reverb-laden wheelhouse he’s familiar with, but the experimental nature of the genre has allowed his music to remain fresh through the years.

Buoys is his sixth solo album and it’s incredibly stripped back compared to previous releases, with Lennox’s voice and acoustic guitar serving as the meat and potatoes of each track. Sampling, feedback and other miscellaneous noises garnish rather than serve as main attractions. Lennox’s voice sounds bland and flat fairly often and the songwriting only sometimes justify this focus on the barebones.

On album standout, “Inner Monologue,” the percussive sound of Lennox’s sliding fingers on the neck of the guitar and heavy breathing bake in a bevy of effects while his voice bounces between dipping into a lower register and remarkably harmonized shocks of a higher range that punctuate the track’s hook.

On other tracks, Lennox flirts with an interesting textural idea before quickly abandoning it, only to return to his frequently repetitive vocal melodies. Most of Buoys is restricted rather than liberated by his minimalistic approach.