Panda Bear – Tomboy (album review)

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By David Colburn

Staff Writer

Repetition, repetition, hypnotic repetition. Hallways of echoes and alien anthems. A vast, vibrant, vintage soundscape. Take a breath, relax, and drift into Panda Bear’s latest offering; the world of Tomboy.

Rhythm? Rhythm’s found all around, through the harsh lens of the fittingly titled “Drone” to the fluid psychadelia of “You Can Count on Me,” the title track and “Afterburner.” Every aspect of sound flows without an ounce of reluctance. Noise bustles through dense tangled groves and soars around in spiraling patterns.

In the midst of great experimentation and unabashed oddness, the blissful state of accessibility never strays far behind. It is hard to deny the pure catchiness of tracks like “Slow Motion,” “Surfer’s Hymn” or, perhaps the best example, “Last Night at the Jetty.” All three tracks progress in order; the former sways in a simple circular motion, the second flows and basks in a euphoric glow, and the latter ascends in instantly memorable vocal hooks and percussion.

Strong emotion also looms in the world of Tomboy. The dark piano work and ambience of “Scheherazade” constructs an atmosphere fitting of its namesake, and “Friendship Bracelet” strikes a melodic balance between exotic quirkiness and a heartfelt sensation. The album concludes with a swan song of sorts in Benfica, the simple, yet commanding track ascends in reverb-tinted instrumentation from the well-explored terrains of Tomboy, and back to the normalcy of Earth.

Rest in the album’s sweet hypnotic realm without a second thought. As each track forms through the speakers, the consensus should be clear: Tomboy is an album worth checking out and experiencing again and again.