Panda Bear – Buoys

It appears this Panda may just thrive in his new habitat.
Label: Domino Records
Released: 8th February 2019
Rating: ★★★

Do not adjust your headphones – the year is 2019, and all synths have been replaced by waterdrops, as disconcerting as they are ASMR-style satisfying. But then maybe that was Noah Lennox’s exact plan for ‘Buoys’ – having spoken about his desire to create a record that would resonate more with a younger audience, the record makes a clear play for generation-z with its use of double-layered, autotune vocals, and a clear indebtedness to Trap, albeit a sad-eyed, indie-boy version of. It’s not a move that seems inauthentic – rather just an extension of Lennox’s Beach Boy harmonies that rise and fall with the reassuring familiarity of the album’s title, these newly staccato beats complementing his lovestruck croon.

Where ‘Token’ is the meeting point between Grizzly Bear and ‘Plastic Beach’ era Gorillaz, with a hint of cheekiness (or in fact ‘a slap on a jelly ass’), ‘Inner Monologue’ is a surprising and intimate listen, set to a feminine cry that reads as both anguish and release, depending on the mindset in which you hear it. It’s an expression of sexuality that seems at odds with the relative abstract nature of Panda Bear’s previous work, but one that fits a record which touches (but never lingers) on a string of wider anthro-political issues – abuse of power, suppressed impulse, the need for humility in difficult times. Thrown together in a swimming pool of ideas, it all works. Adjusting to ever-changing conditions, it appears this Panda may just thrive in his new habitat.

Jenessa Williams

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