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Album review: ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’ ditches the sickle for glowsticks

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Smith Galtney

Panda Bear Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Two and a half stars

Judging from the title, one would assume there’s some dark matter rumbling in the core of the new solo album from Noah Lennox, the Animal Collective member known as Panda Bear. But like anything in the AC/PB vortex, darkness is merely a space yet to get splattered with DayGlo paint and black light and campfire chants. If the Grim Reaper does make an appearance on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (I have my doubts), he’s ditched his sickle for glowsticks and bustin’ those annoying, noodle-y, rave-y moves in the chillout tent.

More accessible than 2011’s Tomboy, more tethered than 2007’s Person Pitch, this feels like PB’s least demanding effort. The songs are concise, framed by beats initially inspired by dub reggae and ’90s hip-hop (before getting royally screwed with, of course). And while Lennox’s voice sounds clearer than ever, he still has a Stipe-ian knack for making the simplest lyric utterly indecipherable. I was convinced he was singing “really shouldn’t do that other drug” in “Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker,” until a lyric page informed me it’s actually “really shouldn’t bring that other guy.” But I did know he was singing “Are you mad?” in “Come to Your Senses,” because he sings it about 70 times in seven minutes.

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