Leading up to the release of “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper,” Noah Lennox (pictured), who performs as Panda Bear, said in several interviews he wanted to make his songs less personal.
As both a solo performer and member of the Baltimore-reared psych-pop outfit Animal Collective, Lennox has always penned lyrics as though they’re something of an existential, inward-looking exercise. We as listeners have been brought into some of Lennox’s innermost moments of doubt and triumph, as if the act of committing the words to a song somehow helps him work through the thoughts in his head.
You get the idea. This is not unique to Panda Bear’s music, far from it. But there’s something about his elegant warble—it’s nearly impossible to find a review that doesn’t compare his vocal tone to either Brian Wilson or a choirboy—that makes this act feel more fragile and vulnerable. Events cast in a positive light—reveling in personal growth on ‘Ponytail,’ the stadium chant of the innate human desire to win in ‘Benfica’—still bear the mark of a singer wearing his heart on his sleeve.