Pop elements are what I enjoy most in music, and, is primarily what I seek out. Bright soundscapes composed of jangly guitars, infectious vocals, and a manifold of complementary instrumentation are, to me, the peak of musicality. Having said that, pop often serves as a wonderful supplement to seemingly contrasting musical styles. The Jesus and Mary Chain, for example, drenched noise with underlying pop sensualities. My point is, these bright sounds can be, more often than not, completely utilized in conjunction with borrowed sounds.
Panda Bear, also known as Noah Lennox from Animal Collective, is the creative force behind Person Pitch, his third album. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of AC. Not that they’re bad, but I’ve never listened to them extensively. As such, I had no idea what to expect from this album. I was genuinely hoping that it wasn’t some self-indulgent noise escapade that would make my ears bleed, like another band, which I won’t bother naming for fear of their fans leaving my blog! Thankfully, my fears were put to rest. ‘Comfy in Nautica’ is a nice intro to the record, featuring restrained vocals on Lennox’s part, and monotonic chants from the background. The album is an extremely relaxed experience, save for a few tense moments.
The album has roots in a variety of sources. Most obvious of the lot is a happy-go-lucky 50s/60s pop attitude you’d hear from a jukebox, along with (/including) the Beach Boys. Person Pitch sounds like a modern interpretation of Paul Simon’s Graceland, which is a huge compliment as that’s one of the greatest albums in the history of this galaxy. Except instead of Simon’s richly defined voice, we’re met with the busy and droned-out voice of Lennox. It’s very image-heavy and constantly moving, with noises from his surroundings (cars, skateboards, owls) playing a large role in the formation of the album. Halfway through ‘Take Pills’ comes another example of this atmospheric influence, as the sound is submerged into water. The song also sounds like it’s been directly taken out of the Beach Boys catalogue and infused with very spacey and consuming surroundings. ‘Bros’ is the true gem of the album, a 12 minute and 30 second long epic. It’s perfectly timed, incredibly balanced, and melodically brilliant. “I’m not trying to forget you, I’d just like to be alone,” exclaims Lennox, perhaps providing further insight into the busyness and isolation of the record. ‘I’m Not’ and ‘Good Girl’ offer a break from the brightness, instead making way for 9 minutes of layered noises – meandering voices swaying to and fro - a sort of intermission between two halves of pop. Following this short break comes the familiarity of Lennox’s falsetto and multi-instrumentation, which continues through to the album’s conclusion.
It sounds redundant, forgive me, but Person Pitch truly shines with its pop sensibilities. Perhaps it lacks variation, but when it sounds this beautiful why bother entertaining the idea of multiplicity? I’m running out of adjectives and superlatives in which to describe it. It’s just… great. This will no doubt end up as one of the year’s best albums; it’s too good to be overlooked.
Edit: I'm in NYC for the weekend, I return after 4 days without the internetz and they get a 9.4 on p4k?!
MP3: Panda Bear - Comfy in Nautica
MP3: Panda Bear - Take Pills
MP3: Panda Bear - Bros
Person Pitch at Metacritic