*Couple Thoughts on Tomboy
In the Pitchfork review for Panda Bear’s 2004 album Young Prayer, Mark Richardson notes of the time when he asked Noah Lennox if there was a “pop guy” of Animal Collective who try to bring songs into a “more tuneful and accessible direction.” Lennox said no such guy exists in the collective, but Richardson points out that Lennox fits as that character.
I haven’t dug deep into the other Collective member’s solo stuff so I don’t have a lot of perspective on to what the others may bring into AnCo’s music, but taking a look at Tomboy, Lennox’s music as Panda Bear bring a more accessible direction to the psychedelic experiments you may see in AnCo’s body of work.
Tomboy isn’t exactly a compact version of Person Pitch like I have mentioned, but the simple description is a good starting point at what Lennox does so well in these Panda Bear songs. The psychedelic textures wash up like the ones in Person Pitch; it’s basically a Panda Bear signature at this point. And his focus on his vocals and harmonies as a chant bring this euphoric trance into the ideas of repetition and layering. Again, another idea Panda Bear songs have been to known to do.
The difference may lie in the short and concise (not compact) manner of Panda Bear songs are in Tomboy, which may make the music more digestible and transparent onto what is going in the inside. And sounds used become more tactile, most notably the presence of drums being more of an element to the music along the washed soundscapes. You can sort of nod your head along in a melodic fashion rather than stuck in a gaze. It gives a kick, especially in “Slow Motion,” and grabs you in for a good 3-minutes.
Just because the songs don’t offer a long enough time for immersion compared to Person Pitch doesn’t mean Tomboy is more in a surface level of contact. The spirit tucked in the wonderful sounds is a very heartfelt one, the kind that manifests itself from a long time of thinking in a solitary condition. Lennox isn’t lonely, he’s just by himself a lot, observing a lot of things both internally and externally while connecting both sides of the observation together into one epiphany.
The thing I appreciate a lot of AnCo’s music is the very human element such as family, relations, and generally life that they touch upon with a complex map of spontaneous sounds. Lennox does that to an extent. “Surfer’s Hymn” means differently to me now that I look upon the words closer. That mission for improvement from looking at something inspiring. It’s inspiring in itself.
The ideas and messages express themselves through an excellent format. Lennox has a great ear for pop writing, one that is grounded to a very traditional line of pop, like the ’60s pop. Genuine spirit with an ear for sweet melody. Short and simple. Again, like Brian Wilson (I only bring it up as a huge compliment). And the way he lays his vocals down, it’s vast and psychedelic.
I was more interested in sharing how Lennox’s music breaks the line between what is electronic and, for lack of a better word, organic music using repetition at first as I went in Tomboy. But this album means a lot more, and it ties in more to the contribution to his big group Animal Collective: humanity. Electronic or not, there’s a good sense of a human-made product regardless of editing and manipulation because it sings about human things.
I wanted to take apart the techniques more (looping, layering and such) but it’s less of that and more of the product through what he does that blurs perception. It sounds from the past with undiscovered techniques. Definitely not the ideas of now. Figuring out all of this stuff, decoration and overall expression, is fun in Tomboy as much as it simply walking through it. What a week of wonder it was.
What did you think of Tomboy?