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Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Panda Bear: 'Tomboy' – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tags: Music Reviews

At some point over the last couple of years Noah Lennox had to have started feeling like the Atlas of the music industry. Releasing two unparalleled albums in the course of four years, 2007’s critically-acclaimed Bros under solo moniker Panda Bear and Meriwether Post Pavilion in 2009 with his Animal Collective buddies, Lennox put himself in a position that seems practically unsustainable. A position of crushing expectations to deliver yet another near perfect album.

But Lennox is a smart cookie, and with the announcement of Tomboy last year, there was also the message that he would be releasing seven-inch singles that would eventually be collected into Tomboy. In giving his eager audience a peak every couple of months at what he was working on, he effectively undercut the tension of mounting pressure.

The immediate point of comparison for Tomboy goes with the preceding Bros, and while both were recorded in Lennox’s home in Lisbon, Tomboy is much more of a stark beast than Bros. It’s darker and the resonance rings of solitude, a direct result of Lennox’s decision to record the album in his windowless basement. The record almost seems stripped-down, despite the rolling consistency of merging voices, samples and instruments. Songs like the tension-building “Scheherazade” wall the listener into a near-claustrophobic state as Lennox’s voice lullabies in a mesmerizing state of loneliness.

Tomboy is the "Empire Strikes Back" of the Noah Lennox Life trilogy. It might not be the crowning achievement of Lennox’s career, but it takes on the audience’s immense thirst for new content by taking them down a black, untraveled road. It’s the fact that it wasn’t the expected move that keeps Tomboy refreshing, and ultimately proves that Lennox is still capable of maintaining his street cred, whether he’s holding up the heavens or not.

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