Panda Bear is the self-titled debut solo album by the Baltimore musician Noah Lennox who later became a founding member of Animal Collective. The album was the first use of the Panda Bear moniker which he later continued to use while performing with group. It was released on June 1, 1999 shortly before his 20th birthday on the label Soccer Star Records. The label was formed by himself and fellow future Animal Collective member and childhood friend Deakin (Joshua Dibb) and was initially founded only to release this album. However the label eventually morphed into Animal and then the existing label Paw Tracks. This album marks the very first Animal Collective related release, apart from the EP, "Paddington Band", which was a recording by the Animal Collective precursor, Automine which featured all other members of the future group except for Lennox himself.
It is unknown exactly how many compact discs were made but it can be assumed it was a small number due to the fact that the label had no distribution network at the time. It was likely paid out of pocket by Lennox and Dibb themselves. The aforementioned factors as well as lack of awareness and interest led to the album becoming out of print.
Lennox commented on the possibility of a reissue in 2004.
There’s like two or three songs that I guess I still like on that album but I feel like such a different person now. It’s not that I’m not proud of it, or that I don’t believe in it, but I’m not so excited about it that I feel like I need to reissue it and get it out to a whole bunch of other people who haven’t heard it.
Lennox became interested in electronic music and other forms of experimental music as a teenager. Feeling inspired, he began recording compositions of his own to tape under the name "Panda Bear". He choose the name because he began drawing pictures of his favorite animal pandas on the tapes. These recordings became the structure of the eventual album.
Lennox commented on his approach to making the record in 2004.
I kind of feel like I didn’t even have a concept of what an album was back then, for the first one, when I was 15, 16, 17, 18 or so. I just put songs together that I liked at the time.