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Panda Bear - I'm Not / Comfy In Nautica

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Artist: Panda Bear

Album: I'm Not / Comfy In Nautica

Label: Uunited Acoustic

Review date: Feb. 19, 2006

Noah Lennox’s last record under his Panda Bear nom de guerre, Young Prayer, consisted of melancholic utterances and plaintive ruminations that seemed to exist outside of language – the songs were so tentative as to disappear. It was as if the presumed context of that record, the death of Lennox’s father, could hardly be made sense of in words and choruses and chord progressions, or that such coherence could only diminish the weight of what was felt.

If Young Prayer dealt in the ineffable, Lennox’s new 7” is a return to the world of words, structures, rhythms. There are songs here, though more as vignettes than wholly formed compositions with any audience in mind.

In “I’m Not,” a well of voices reverberate and enfold an ethereal vocal melody, harmonized glissandos welter about billowy sighs of reverb. Lennox’s angelic voice is anchored by an exceedingly understated beat, and one rumbling loop occasionally passes through the soundscape. There is no progression, very little variation, no narrative – a single moment suspended momentarily.

“Comfy in Nautica” is bookended by mechanical clattering at the beginning and rude synth rumbling at the end, as if the four-minute song is an untarnished antique only temporarily recovered, a flickering 8mm reel disintegrating as it is projected. The song itself is typically winsome, with the feeling of a dusty summer camp number resurrected – think “Sloop John B.” Handclaps mark the beat and Lennox’s incantation is somewhere between church and a campfire.

The playful naiveté that has propelled Animal Collective to fame is here, but appears as channeling rather than acting, part of the private endeavor of relating to the world. These songs are gracious fragments of that endeavor, static pieces of life pulled from the recesses of the mind and cut to wax without much commentary, and without much need for it.

By Alexander Provan

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