Probably the most written and talked about 'indie' album so far this year, Panda Bear's fifth solo album is not the sombre affair you might expect from the title. Despite taking on themes of middle-age and death it feels like a more joyous record than previous release 'Tomboy'. Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) has talked about making records in 'the soup' of samples, textures and production techniques, and while you can't deny there's a lot going on here it's still an open and inviting record. Intense listening reveals a multitude of layers and sounds, but not so much that it can't also reward a casual passing ear.
From the hypnotic and repetitive single 'Mr. Noah' through to The harp-led 'Tropic of Cancer', about the death of Lennox's father, is perhaps the most surprising thing here - from the trumpet sample of the Last Post to the simple harp that references Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker it's a gentle and touching tribute. As he sings "you can't come back, you won't come back" he softly conveys the feeling of loss.
Pete 'Sonic Boom' Kember's production is dense but not impenetrable, and overall there's a warmth to the album that's more in tune with a late Mediterranean spring than the current cold January.
I got the deluxe vinyl backage (from Bleep here) which is beautifully put together and includes the 12" 'Mr Noah' EP which features three tracks not on the album which are all good enough to be part of it.
Here's the great animated video for 'Boys Latin'.