Top 10 Albums of the Year: #2

Panda Bear - Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Another stylistic turn was had by Noah Lennox (Panda Bear to most folks), precipitated seemingly by contrasting life situations. The last Panda Bear album, 2004's Young Prayer, was made in the wake of the death of Noah's father, and the bare, minimally adorned acoustic guitar and voice spoke volumes about his condition. Person Pitch was created under decidedly happier circumstances (marriage, a move to Lisbon, Portugal, and the birth of his child). Hence, Person Pitch has a different sound about it altogether: warm, full, and buoyant. I'm quite sure that no other album this year made me feel so damn good.
Like the previously mentioned No Age album, Person Pitch collects a series of 7" and 12" singles released on a variety of labels over the course of the past few years. Despite this, the construction of the album feels very organic. The song pacing doesn't seem haphazard or thrown-together in the least.
Now, a lot of this record might have a Beach Boys / Brian Wilson vocal harmony vibe about it. Fine, that's a given. But Noah seem to use this as a jumping off point for creating a sort of pop music that wears itself in and just dwells in its own melodies and sounds. Things keep moving forward, but there's never a rush.
You've already heard most of this, but it's a great album so it bears repeating. "Comfy in Nautica" and "I'm Not" hypnotize in their gentle, honeyed repetitions. "Take Pills" sways like the leaves of a palm tree during sunset and then picks up to a bonfire party tempo. "Good Girl / Carrots" travels through three distinct movements, from a tribal jam traveling in hyperspace to a walking-pace piano-anchored tune to something that sounds like a melted ice-cream truck chime. "Search for Delicious" and "Ponytail" let the album down easy, "Search" with its ambient textures and echoing vocals, and "Ponytail" with its simple autoharp-in-a-rainforest melody. The centerpiece of the album, of course, is "Bros," combining touches of tropicalia, folk, psych, and perhaps even a friendly dancefloor mentality into one of the best songs of the year.
You don't find too many albums with such an intense "good vibes" kind of feeling as Person Pitch. It is...instant levity.

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