The new album from Panda Bear, Buoys, is out on Friday via Domino, and it's a sweet, light-as-air confection. A listener can hear the distinct layers of instrumentation that make up these tracks, and yet the compositions remain gossamer weight and never dense. Rarely has something so simple ended up being so complex, though.
Opener "Dolphin" builds on the top of a sample of a drop plopping into the water, while the subtly soaring "Token" sees Panda Bear divide his attention between washes of keyboards and snatches of acoustic guitar. The cut, a real highlight of Buoys, floats in and enchants almost before one has a chance to pick through the pieces here. I think that gets at the easy genius of this artist because, clearly, the Animal Collective member is adept at this sort of thing, with the tracks here rarely overstaying their welcome. The title is bright electro-pop, indie made new on the instruments of past generations of New Wave, while the more deliberate "Home Free" feels a trifle more direct, Panda Bear moving his vocals forward in the mix when appropriate. It is, like so many of the cuts here, simultaneously linear and full of small diversions for the ear to follow.
Panda Bear is really one of the few artists today who can get away with this sort of thing without making the resulting music seem too precious. Buoys captivates without ever becoming burdensome in its approach. To his enormous credit, Panda Bear has made a wonderfully-precise record, and one which rewards with each listen even as the overall effect seems to fade away in the air.
Buoys is out on Friday via Domino.
[Photo: Fernanda Pereira]