Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Released March 20th, 2007 on Paw Tracks
When Person Pitch first came out I was of the opinion that it sounded exactly like the Beach Boys, if the Beach Boys had been granted access to high-octane research chemicals during the writing and recording process. Very little in the ensuing decade has given me any reason to change this opinion.
Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox was, in early 2007, on top of the world. His day job band, psychedelic electronic acid-jammers Animal Collective, were being increasingly recognized as one of the most vital bands in contemporary indie rock (Strawberry Jam was just around the corner to cement this status). Between Feels, AnCo’s breakthrough album, and Person Pitch Lennox moved to Lisbon, Portugal; the sunny climate and generally carefree atmosphere Lennox found heavily influenced the sound of the album. The stacked vocals evoke a very beachy, very free-wheeling sense of fun and abandon; the sampled loops and instruments that clatter on beneath everything add to the sense of unreality, as though you’re on an endless vacation in a place where the sand is white and the water is a clear, brilliant blue and you have no return ticket. “Bros” (jam of a lifetime) and “Good Girl/Carrots” add a bit of gallop to the sound, as though the Grateful Dead (pre-Workingman’s Dead) had access to a modern recording studio and all of the LSD they could ever want.
Person Pitch was the height of Noah Lennox as a solo artist. His next album would largely ditch the samplers in favour of more guitar-focused work, and his follow-up to that would try to rework samplers back in while striving for a more radio-ready sound. Neither have the sense of hedonistic abandon that characterizes Person Pitch and neither has the reverb-laden choral quality of vocals that marks the album out as something special.