Showing posts with label panda bear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label panda bear. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

video review: 'panda bear meets the grim reaper' by panda bear

It's good to be back in the game. Been off for a bit thanks to being sick - it sucked, trust me - but I'm mostly better now.

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, then to start catching up my schedule... except this weekend is a Magic prerelease and next weekend is MAGFest. Hoo boy...

album review: 'panda bear meets the grim reaper' by panda bear

One of the topics I've discussed fairly often in relation to indie pop is something called 'regression to childhood', which in the simplest of possible terms is the tendency of some indie artists to revert back to childlike states in their music in order to wring out a more emotionally authentic experience. I'll admit right out of the gate that I'm not precisely a fan of this - I'm a fan of more experienced, mature songwriting and storytelling - but there are cases where this sort of thing can work. There have been some great emo, pop punk, and indie pop records that have come from this mindset, and capturing that childlike wonder at the larger world is something potent in its own right - it was one of the thematic undercurrents that made Swans' most recent record To Be Kind so powerful for me.

That said, if we're looking for an act that pushes this regression to the limit, you have to look at Animal Collective. And to be honest, I've got a very complicated relationship with the band, where at best I can say they're hit-and-miss. On the one hand they can occasionally tap into a sound that evocative and unlike any others, but on the other hand, it can sometimes feel like they're throwing crap at the walls and seeing what will stick. From that point, I've often found myself as more interested in Panda Bear, the stage name for Noah Lennox and who has consistently proven himself to be a slightly more grounded presence, or at least one that's willing to embrace more traditional song structures. He's at least more consistent than Animal Collctive, and as such he made his name with the 2007 critically-beloved Person Pitch. And don't get me wrong, it's a really good album, but it's also one that convinced me that Lennox might be a better writer of succinct, tighter pop music in the vein of Brian Wilson than the overblown grand attempts that really can't sustain much of their length. Believe it or not, despite the fact that his 2011 follow-up Tomboy might not hit as many transcendent moments, I actually consider it a tighter, more cohesive record, especially when it comes to themes.

It was also a record that showed Panda Bear going darker, and when I heard the title of this record, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, I expected that trend to continue. So what did we get?