Panda Bear follows up the all-time great Person Pitch, an effort that won him unanimous critical acclaim, with a moody, guitar-driven collection of hit-or-miss anthems. The album serves as a near-perfect soundtrack to the summer but doesn’t warrant the repeat listens of his former masterstroke. To be fair, practically nothing would. The pressure to follow up one of our generation’s most unique, creative, and addicting records was a task that even Noah Lennox was not going to be able to pull off.
Tomboy includes several standout tracks, including the hypnotic “Last Night at the Jetty.” The track features Lennox’s standard falsetto but expands into euphoric harmonies during the song’s blissful peaks. My two favorite tracks, “Drone” and “Scheherezade,” are atmospheric pieces where Panda Bear uses that falsetto as an instrument to compliment simple melody from noise and drones. It’s a beautiful exercise that isn’t experimented with at this level beyond the two tracks.
Ultimately, Panda Bear does not reach the heights of his last effort but provides a solid statement that his solo career beyond Animal Collective will continue to push the boundaries of pop and experimental music. I still find Avey Tare’s Down There to be a less repetitive, more cohesive and creative exploration of what the genre needs and represents. It’s more affecting on repeated listens.