Nada Mucho

Panda Bear – Intimacy Issues

Posted by February 25th, 2005 No Comments »

Album Review
Panda Bear
Young Prayer
By Aaron Burkhalter

An album described as “intimate” is usually a small ensemble of musicians playing quiet, sweet music with falsely confessional lyrics that have adorned weepy songs of love and heartbreak since the very dawn of time. However, a truly intimate piece of music would be incredibly awkward, revealing things that are not oft exposed.

A stranger telling the little hidden bits and pieces of their psyche usually leaves me scratching my head, looking away, and secretly coming up with excuses to change the subject, like when a drunk tells you their life story on the last bus home.

Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox, is a member of the experimental campfire singers known as the Animal Collective, an east coast group that fuses folk melodies and noise rock with varying results. Lennox debuts as a solo act with the stark, bare and acerbic Young Prayer, a truly intimate collection of music responding to the death of his father.

Album Review
Panda Bear
Young Prayer
By Aaron Burkhalter

An album described as “intimate” is usually a small ensemble of musicians playing quiet, sweet music with falsely confessional lyrics that have adorned weepy songs of love and heartbreak since the very dawn of time. However, a truly intimate piece of music would be incredibly awkward, revealing things that are not oft exposed.

A stranger telling the little hidden bits and pieces of their psyche usually leaves me scratching my head, looking away, and secretly coming up with excuses to change the subject, like when a drunk tells you their life story on the last bus home.

Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox, is a member of the experimental campfire singers known as the Animal Collective, an east coast group that fuses folk melodies and noise rock with varying results. Lennox debuts as a solo act with the stark, bare and acerbic Young Prayer, a truly intimate collection of music responding to the death of his father.

This album is a harsh and unrelenting walk through the concept of death. It’s not touching or sweet with maudlin lyrics of loss and regret, but rather alarmingly exposed and broken. Lennox approaches this concept with an ambient dissonance unheard of in the pop world and expresses complete honesty and sincerity.

Young Prayer is no verbose, clear approach to the otherwise inarticulate introspection of mortality. It takes less than ten seconds of listening to figure out that lyrics are not the name of this game. Lennox’s vocals croon and wail in high falsetto containing no decipherable words and emote more aural spirituality than the shrewd intellect of clever poetry.

The music features acoustic guitars, wailing vocals, and smatterings of brief percussion that often sound completely accidental. The first of nine untitled tracks is an excellent introduction, sounding like the majority of the album to the casual ear, featuring arrhythmic guitar plucking with wavering high vocals that sound almost Gregorian. The exceptions are track five’s repetitive clapping and chanting of a group of people, and the closing track’s echo of a single chord on the piano with deeper vocals, played in reverse.

The music here is unpolished, ethereal, ambient and incredibly uncomfortable. Lennox paints a picture that leaves you feeling like you’re walking through thick air and distorted, blinding light; an overexposed and washed out photograph, beautifully portraying the emotion of loss amidst an indifferent reality.

This album may come across as disjointed and unfinished, but I see it as a sampling of unique experiences and emotions. Each track begins and ends without warning or climax, presenting a homogenous temper throughout. These tracks feel like they were recorded as quickly as they were conceived, with less premeditation than hasty documentation, capturing each feeling as it strikes, like a musical journal.

It is difficult to objectively look at this album, and discussing my own personal experiences with death, though impossible to avoid when approaching this music, is a fruitless exercise in convincing anyone else that this work is worth the time. The imprint that this album leaves will be in the hands of the individual listener. To most, this album will sound esoteric and entirely inaccessible, but given some time it will stick with a few listeners who connect with it more personally. In the end, though there is little comfort for the listener, the music serves as an experienced voice of the grieving. – (9/10)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2017 Nada Mucho