There aren’t many people making music this joyous nowadays. And of those that are, not many can do it without sounding horribly false, synthetic and cringe worthy. Panda Bear and his Animal Collective pals have a knack for making uplifting music that doesn’t come off trite. It’s their willingness to embrace pop without forgoing their noisy, experimental roots that keeps their shit fresh. So is Tomboy a worthy successor to Panda’s absofuckinglutely delightful Person Pitch record from 2007? Well that’s dangerous territory we’re getting into.
Person Pitch is so unique in its sound and vibe that trying to recapture its magic would have been a deathwish for Mr Lennox, not to mention that retreading ground isn’t the Animal Collective way. And still, it’s impossible to hear Tomboy without thinking about its predecessor. I’m not making excuses here, this a solid album and Lennox is crazy skilled at sewing together unconventional sounds into a warm and comfortable blanket.
Tomboy‘s songs are shorter, concise and focused. Rhythm has a major focus but the beats are never conventional, everything’s dubbed out and blown out into a lazy mirage. Even when there’s no drums (sampled or otherwise) the music is collaged together in head-nodding arrangements. The Beach Boys harmonies, a major strength of Panda’s have been pushed to the fore which is both a blessing and a curse; the vocal emphasis scrubs out the dreamy lo-fi charm of Person Pitch, and yet I keep catching myself humming Tomboy‘s melodies. And each time I hear this record I find a new squelch, gurgle or flutter that surprises and amazes me. Panda is emerging as a major force within Animal Collective, not that I think he’s consciously trying to outshine the rest of his gang. Tomboy stands on its own, outside both the Collective and Person Pitch. If you can, then you should judge it that way.