Is Noah Lennox, the dewy singer- songwriter centerpiece of Animal Collective, moodily introspective when it comes to his Panda Bear solo projects? Is he more attracted to the dark and the sparse when it comes to Tomboy than to Collective's floral, psychedelic melodies and avant-pop playfulness?
Yes and yes.
Sumptuous and intimate in a way Animal Collective isn't, Tomboy pulls back from the epic sampladelica of previous efforts (namely 2007's Person Pitch) to include crackling guitar sounds, nimble rhythms and an all-around warmth. Slow Motion pulses along nicely, with wonky reverberation as its lead instrument. Last Night at the Jetty is delectably churchy, with a reggae-lite groove. Don't mistake intimacy for solace. Surfer's Hymn is chipper and crisp. The title tune in particular is a statement of new purpose, with its unyielding guitars and aggressive vibe. This ambient tension works shockingly well with Lennox's Brian Wilson-like vocals, layered harmonies, and quizzical, lyrical takes on fatherhood and the nature of art.
The boy (the bear cub?) has finally become a man.
A.D. Amorosi, The Philadelphia Inquirer