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Indie icon and veteran Panda Bear returns with a bustling and glistening upbeat release

Noah Loveless, WMEB Staff
Rating 4.5

Noah Lennox, or Panda Bear as most fans of indie music know him, has made some of the biggest splashes in 21st century music. Whether it’s through his work as a founding member of the genre-bending experimental pop group Animal Collective, or through his own psychedelic and fun solo projects, Lennox has consistently been ushering music into the weirdest and most unpredictable directions. “Buoys” is his sixth solo album. It mimics a more consistent sound than his other albums, showing that Panda Bear has not stopped discovering his unique and complex sound. The album’s consistency does not dull its brilliance.

On “Buoys,” Panda Bear stays in top form, wasting no melody or quirky sample, and continues to distort pop music to the point that it becomes a strange, unrecognizable but ultimately exciting experience.

The first song, “Dolphin” was the first single to be released in preparation for the full project. The song also set the tone for the sounds and instrumentation that occur throughout the rest of the album. One of the reoccurring instruments is oddly enough an acoustic guitar. On several tracks, including “Dolphin,” one of the central sounds is this repetitive strumming of a guitar. However, it is what he fills the space around the guitar with that makes things get noticeably alternative. For instance, there is a consistent sample of a water drop sound that works as a percussive element.

This blending of acoustic and electronic is found throughout the release. Later in the album, the song “I Know I Don’t Know” begins with this rhythmic guitar strumming but very quickly is layered over with fluttering drum machine noises and whistling synth sounds. Tracks like this are also good examples of Lennox’s knack for finding a good hook. The melody flows up and down, and his voice is as sweet and mellow as ever.

Animal Collective’s last project, “Tangerine Reef,” was created with an obvious connection to the ocean, including a surreal film of the ocean to accompany the project. This type of aquatic influence is felt in many ways on “Buoys.” The song “Crescendo” has many sounds that mimic nature including water drops, echoes of a forest and even bird sounds. The way that all the intricate sounds flow together and merge is a truly interesting experience to listen to.

On this project Noah Lennox continues his stride; he keeps things interesting and never really gives the listener a total chance to settle. One is treated to bubbling noises and effects that change and morph so quickly that unless one is listening intently, the sounds can seem like chaos. This project warrants repeated listens but one shouldn’t find relistening difficult; each time around one can notice the more hidden details, the crunches, pops and sizzles that disappear and reappear below the surface.

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