Tomboy is the latest album from Panda Bear aka that guy from Animal Collective aka Noah Lennox. It serves as the follow up to his much beloved 2007 album Person Pitch. Both albums were released on Paw Tracks, a record label founded by the members of Animal Collective.
This one was a long time comin’. At least it seemed like it. From the release of its first single, “Tomboy”, to the album’s release it was almost a year. To fans of Panda Bear and Animal Collective it made for a long one. When fans got a taste of “Tomboy” and its opposing side, “Slow Motion”, floodgates were open, people were ready.
Lennox kept the wait do-able by releasing a single every few months. I’m not sure if I liked that strategy or not. It was great because you got to hear new music every so often, but the magic of hearing the album for the first time was taken away. That has always been half the fun for me. I guess what I’m saying is that it took something away from the experience for me. This, however, takes nothing away from the album itself.
Tomboy, from front to back, is a wonderful thing. Lennox has stated that, for this album, he took cues from bands like Nirvana and The White Stripes. Because of this, the album features a heavy dose of guitars. As always, the music is very rhythmic in nature with heavy repetition. This repetition is often times the “acquired taste” portion of Panda Bear/Animal Collective’s music. Please don’t let that scare you away. The taste, once acquired, is quite stunningly sweet.
The tracklist is masterfully sequenced. The flow of the album feels natural. It starts off with “You Can Count On Me”, a touching song about a father’s love for his son. “Know you can count on me, I’ll be so up on it. Know at least I’ll try./Where are you if I’m not up on it.” The song feels genuine, refreshingly so. The next few songs, “Tomboy”, “Slow Motion”, and “Surfer’s Hymn” are fast paced foot tappers with an aggressive, up-tempo feel. These lead into my favorite track, “Last Night at the Jetty”. Probably my favorite song of the first half of 2010. It seems to be a retrospective on a few years, or a month, or a week in someone’s life. It’s playful and brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. “I don’t want to describe something that I’m not. I don’t want to hide these hopes that I have./I want to enjoy what’s meant to enjoy, not look for slights and slurs to employ “. A noble mission to even aim for, let alone complete. “Jetty” leads into “Drone”, this one’s a bit aurally piercing, but serves as a good centerpiece. The second half of the album is more haunting than the first half, which is more driving. “Scheherazade” feels like it should have been on the Blade Runner soundtrack, like some kind of space lullaby. “Friendship Bracelet” and “Afterburner” bring back the tempo a bit before the cool breeze of “Benefica” takes the disc home.
Overall, fans are happy, new listeners are happy, everyone’s happy. That is always a good thing. Maybe next time everyone can be happy a bit sooner. Maybe.