Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is Noah Benjamin Lennox’s fifth solo album under the alias Panda Bear. Lennox is an experimental musician and founding member of the band Animal Collective. Lennox uses electronic and techno influences in his work integrating many styles into his own melting pot.
The album opens with the song “Sequential Circuits”, a song that begins with light airy chords and a cascading percussive effect. Dark bass chords slowly build up behind along with a progressively louder ‘drip drip drip’ of water which provides the haunting beat. The vocals take the form of a choral harmony chanting in an almost trance-like state. The song is a grand opening to the album and is a powerful statement of intent for the rest of the album.
The next song “Mr Noah” is an immediately heavier track; a sinister techno riff kicks off the song with a thunderous beat soon following it up. Lennox has kept the harmonious vocals, but here they are more direct, coinciding with the straight-up rock beat rather than the transcendent feel of the vocals in ‘Sequential Circuits’. “Mr Noah” exudes confidence and grit as a song and has a hard and dirty feel to it throughout, providing muscle and a direct riff to the album.
“Davy Jones Locker” is an interlude in which Lennox plays around with the panning of his music, melting the sound from one speaker to another whilst adding sci-fi style sounds to merge into the infectious beat of “Crosswords”. The track uses similar sounds to “Davy Jones Locker”, but also adds in a South American style percussion on top of some vocals.
“Tropic of Cancer” and “Lonely Wanderer” draw on traditional Japanese music, and though this feature is seen throughout the album with the intertwining chords, it is most prevalent on these two tracks. These two are the most mellow tracks on the album and both make use of more traditional instrumental sounds that softens the edges of the songs.
Overall this is a strong fifth album by an already well-established artist, with the use of traditional forms of music merged with varying contemporary styles works well (is shown by the strong chart position of the album which went straight to number four in the alternative chart).
This article was written by Sam Brunt