Following a vinyl-only release last year with A Day With the Homies, Noah Lennox returns under the Panda Bear pseudonym with Buoys.
From the first lazy strums of the opening track, it’s obvious that Buoys is a change in direction from Lennox’s latest creative ventures as Panda Bear. Throughout Buoys, Lennox creates a slowed down version of the music he’s been making for years; whimsical, experimental and psychedelic pop.
Buoys opens with a splish-splashing “Dolphin” that sets the groundwork for the rest of the album. Instrumentally, the track is a bare-bones production. With only the repetitive drip, a muted guitar and the voice of Lennox, the track feels like one of Panda Bear’s most intimate songs. Lennox shares a vulnerable moment of spilling out his dedication to a friend or lover by painting this picture of him being there for them in the crazy and vile world.
Though the entire album seems to be Lennox slowing down and rethinking his songwriting process, there are still times where the Panda Bear of the past peeks through. Midway through the album tracks like “Token” and “Master” hint at the familiar reverb drenched, electro-pop of past albums like “Person Pitch” and “Mr. Noah.”
Lennox’s most interesting track on the album, “Inner Monologue,” is also his most disturbing. Featuring the moans and whimpers of a woman that’s seemingly in distress, Lennox cycles through a mysterious and haunting set of lines, “Ran away / Don’t run away / We ran away / Don’t we run away.”
With Buoys, Lennox is recrafting his sound. With minimalistic electric grooves and a consistent strumming guitar, Buoys relies on this simplistic structure throughout the entire record. And though this idea behind the sort of reduced songwriting is honorable, besides a scattered few tracks, seems to fall flat as a whole.