pandabear

It’s hard to believe that this is Noah Lennox’s fifth solo LP. Breathlessly prolific, his own music, as well as the work he produces with the rest of his Animal Collective menagerie, remains of such an astoundingly consistent quality that despite being amongst today’s most innovative artists, his releases now arrive with an air of good, old-fashioned reliability. It’s no mean feat, and this effort, thankfully, doesn’t buck the trend. In fact, it may well be his best yet. It’s certainly his most interesting.

Spacemen 3’s Peter Kember takes over at the mixing desk, lending ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’ a toughness and a more defined shape that was absent on previous albums, and while the swirling, Brian Wilson vocal-led psychedelia with which Lennox has made his moniker is present (trippy lead single ‘Mr Noah’ and the mesmerising ‘Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker’, for example), the real standouts are found in fresher sounds.

Opener ‘Crosswords,’ for example, takes Lennox’s characteristically hypnotic sound and pairs it with up-front synths that throb with Moroder-esque sci-fi menace, seemingly drawing direct influence from his mates Daft Punk. ‘Boys Latin’ and ‘Selfish Gene’ also touch on the alluring, synthesised disco that Moroder first breathed life into in the late ’70s. The ‘headphone album’ tag always seems a bit reductive to me, but this collection simply must be enjoyed in the highest of fidelity.

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