The Panda Bear moniker and aesthetic have brought worldwide acclaim to Animal Collective member Noah Lennox. 2007’s Person Pitch introduced the independent music community to the poster child of game changers and crowned Panda Bear, deservedly so, as indie royalty. 2011’s Tomboy, Lennox’s highly anticipated fourth album and follow-up to Person Pitch, took that formula, complete with layered harmonies and melodic repetition, and added a bit more structure and accessibility.
2015’s Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper sounds a lot like a sequel to Tomboy. And that’s a slight disappointment coming from an artist known for turning his back on previous conventions and patterns, especially with his day job. To be fair, the album is not a carbon copy. The soft and trippy ballad “Tropic of Cancer” and the inventive and vocal-manipulated “Boys Latin” are two of the best tracks in the Panda Bear catalog and unique in composition and style. However, I can’t help but think I’ve heard “Come to Your Senses” and “Acid Wash” many times before. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is undoubtedly a respectable effort from Lennox, but I think the aesthetic has worn a bit thin for me.