Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper – who do you think wins?

Courtesy of Wondering Sound

When I reviewed this EP back in November, I included the insane cover art. I couldn’t do that this time. Could. Not. Hurt my brain! So I’m glad that Noah provides us with many art options to choose from when referencing his highly anticipated solo album, which released on Music Super Tuesday 2015.

Track by track!

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
released 20 January 2015

1. Sequential Circuits – A majestic, mysterious, quiet-energy-filled opener with all the promise of epic shit. Yes. Simply, yes.

2. Mr. Noah – I don’t think I need to say much more than I did when I reviewed this track on the EP, but I will: this title track delivers, despite all my hangups. Though, might I say, the transition from track 1 to track 2 is effective, even if it is a bit sleepy. The start of this track wakes you up and gets you ready for chaos.

3. Davy Jones’ Locker – I heard Noah give an interview on this (album) track, and he said the producer was catching random feedback at times, and decided to make a track of it. I love this transition. Short, sweet, to-the-point; and, for the record, probably one of the best interviews I’ve heard in a long friggin’ time.

4. Crosswords – Choppy transition, but seems to fit. I think it could have been smoother, but I won’t dwell. Quite the disconnected track. Seems too normal for me, in the realm of Panda Bear. Needs more strange.

5. Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker – Remember that little nursery rhyme? This is totally not that. (Duh, Maven) Again, quite tame for Panda Bear, who is normally given to some offbeat shyt. I’m diggin’ it, though. It’s energetic without being boisterous, as I was a bit overwhelmed with his EP selections all in the span of… just over 15 minutes. I felt like my head was going to explode. So, this song progression is working for me, so far.

6. Boys Latin – By far my favorite track of the entire record. His second-released single off the album, this is beautifully constructed, a bit more true to his former solo style, and thoroughly satisfying. I recommend playing on a loop. Forever. Anyone else getting a monastery vibe? (Good title!)

7. Come to Your Senses – That transition has me… underwhelmed… but it works, oddly enough. Now, this track is a whopping 7 min and something seconds. The refrain “Are you mad?” is completely apropos when pertaining to the length of this damn song. (At least he recognizes this… “Yes, I’m mad!”) My attention span wanes at around the 4:30 mark fairly consistently (ASK ANYONE I’VE EVER DONE A PRIVATE REVIEW OF MATERIAL FOR!), so to extend anything further is a risky move. I am much more forgiving than the general population, especially if they are not given to appreciate the art that is musicality. tl;dr – UNnecessarily grandiose. Pare. It. Down.

8. Tropic of Cancer – AGAIN with the length! 6 minutes, sir?! 6 damn minutes? For a total of just over 15 minutes of complete fkg snooze-fest on your album?! My goodness, man. Take some more drugs, will you? Get creative! And, truly, this song is beautiful, but… only in short spurts. Ugh. I can’t.

9. Shadow of the Colossus – Hm. So… space noise.

10. Lonely Wanderer – Good transition, and markedly different sound out the gate. I appreciate the fact that Noah, like the members of Alt-J, is a true musician with actual, classical training. It’s not to say that musicians without formal training are any less impressive, but the quality is different. Noah makes use of classical techniques, such as crescendos, decrescendos, elements of technical skill (runs, arpeggios, etc.), and even uses a traditional concert piano! However, by this point in the album, I am near about asleep. Wake. The f*ck. Up.

11. Principe Real – I hate these long transitions. I want seamless and forward-moving. At least we’re getting a little more lively again, though. I dig the beat here, which I speculate would be a good cadence for a leisurely jog or bike ride… Better. We’re getting better.

12. Selfish Gene – Very promising intro on this one. J’adore ’80s synth-pop, if you didn’t know by now. This isn’t anything earth-shattering, but a solid piece. Repetitive Noah, true to old form.

13. Acid Wash – Reminds me of some ’90s electronica, so I like the title. Very much. Nice outro. There’s little more that can be said here.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Overall, a fairly decent release. It’s not exactly what I wanted or was expecting from this album, but I’m not in this guy’s head, nor am I on his creative team. I am BAFFLED that 3 of the 4 EP tracks are not included (Faces in the Crowd, Untying the Knot, and – not my favorite – This Side of Paradise), since they were pretty great tracks, but can appreciate that he didn’t give much more away than Mr. Noah. As with last year’s Phantogram release, allowing tracks from the album to be made known prior can take away from a certain type of anticipation that you want prior to an album drop. Anywho, overall ♦♦/5. See you next time, Panda Bear. The Grim Reaper won. Do better.

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