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Panda Bear’s attempt at a stripped-back album goes belly-up on ‘Buoys’

by Jack Gillespie In retrospect, Animal Collective’s 2016 record Painting With sparked quite a change in the group’s output. For a band that is known for their sonic experimentation and left-field approach to psychedelic pop and rock, Painting With was a shockingly one-dimensional effort that garnered lukewarm reception from critics and fans. It was the last thing that an Animal Collective record should be: safe. While no member has explicitly said so, it is apparent that the reception to the record caused a complete 180 in their output, including both collaborative efforts and solo releases. Projects such as Meeting of the Waters, Deakin’s Sleep Cycle and Avey Tare’s Eucalyptus saw members returning to the more acoustic, stripped-back aesthetic of earlier Animal Collective records in a more mature, meditative fashion. Each of these records stand as some of the best material to come from any Animal Collective member in years. Even the band’s 2018 album Tangerine Reef, which was released to rather low fanfare, saw the band releasing their most abstract record in more than a decade. Everything after Painting With has made for one of the most interesting, unpredictable eras in the group’s discography. It is this fact that makes Panda Bear’s Buoys such a disappointment. Of all of the members of Animal Collective, Panda Bear (formerly known as Noah Lennox) has had the greatest success with his solo material; 2007’s Person Pitch stands as one of the most critically acclaimed records of the 2000s, and each record following it (Tomboy, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper) has received its own significant amount of praise.

“Dolphin” is Panda Bear’s worst single to date

Buoys Buoys

Vocals devoid of humanity, variety and enjoyability

Buoys Buoys Buoys
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