Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

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Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.jpg
Studio album by Panda Bear
Released January 9, 2015 (2015-01-09)
Recorded 2013–2014
Studio Miosotis Garage
(Almada, Portugal)
Estudio Namouche
(Lisbon, Portugal)[1]
Genre
Length 51:10
Label Domino
Producer
Panda Bear chronology
Mr Noah
(2014)Mr Noah2014
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
(2015)
Crosswords
(2015)Crosswords2015
Singles from Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
  1. "Mr Noah"
    Released: October 23, 2014
  2. "Boys Latin"
    Released: December 15, 2014

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Panda Bear (Noah Lennox). It was released on January 9, 2015 by the Domino Recording Company. Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was preceded by the digital release of an extended play, Mr Noah, and two singles, "Mr Noah" and "Boys Latin". It was followed by the extended play Crosswords.

Background and development[edit]

We’re constantly forced through experiences that allow us to become something new—to create a new identity. Moving [to Portugal] was something like that for me. I had this vision of a future for myself as a person that lived in America, and then all of a sudden it was completely demolished.

—Panda Bear on the use of death as a metaphor on the album[5]

Having recorded his bleaker previous album Tomboy (2011) in a basement, Lennox wanted to go into the opposite direction on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, aiming for a more "lively" and "busy" sound.[6] He began working on the album while working on Animal Collective's Centipede Hz (2012) in Texas.[7] Sonic Boom, who mixed and mastered Panda Bear's previous album Tomboy, co-produced the album.[8][9] The two spent two weeks in November 2013 refining demo recordings Panda Bear had made at home and spent five weeks, beginning in January 2014, finishing the album. Sonic Boom mixed the album on the Balearic island of Menorca.[10] About the album title, Lennox said "It’s about presenting something that we don’t have an easy time dealing with in a costume that’s just a little bit more clown-y."[5] It was also inspired by the titles of 1970s dub collaboration albums such as Augustus Pablo Meets Lee Perry and the Wailers Band and King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown.[11]

Composition[edit]

The lyrical themes of the album center around personal growth, although Lennox wanted to discuss issues on a larger scale because he wanted to avoid "self-obsession or narcissism".[5] The drum programming on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was influenced by 1990s hip-hop. Specifically, Lennox cited Dust Brothers, Q-Tip, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, and J Dilla as influences.[7]

The opening track, "Sequential Circuits" is a neo-psychedelia song, which was described as "swirling" and "a[s] pure as a babbling brook".[12] "Tropic of Cancer" contains a harp sample from the Nutcracker suite and its lyrics concern the death of Panda Bear's father. His vocal harmonies on the song were compared to those of The Beach Boys.[13][14]

Release and promotion[edit]

In March 2014, Lennox announced a North American tour for May during which he would be performing tracks from the new album.[15] From July through September, he toured Europe and North America.[16] On January 11, 2015, Lennox played a Boiler Room set at MoMA PS1.[5] Three days later, he performed "Boys Latin" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[17] Lennox toured his show throughout Europe in March 2015.[18] He performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 12 and 19 and gave seven more North American performances across April and early May.[19] Lennox performed at festivals for the rest of May and mid-June, including Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Lightning in a Bottle Festival in Bradley, California, Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona and Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.[20][21][22][23]

Lennox released a mixtape called PB vs. GR on September 11, 2014.[24] On October 23, Lennox released the EP Mr Noah and made Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper available for pre-order. That day also saw the release of the album's first single, "Mr Noah", and a music video directed by AB/CD/CD.[25] A teaser video for the album, directed by Danny Perez, was released on October 29.[26] The second single, "Boys Latin", was released on December 15, and was accompanied by a music video directed by Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch. The music video had its premiere on Adult Swim.[27] A "Boys Latin" remix by Andy Stott was released on March 2, 2015.[28] A music video for the track "Tropic of Cancer" was directed by fellow Animal Collective member Dave Portner and released on April 8.[29]

On January 4, 2015, Lennox began his global radio campaign to premiere nine new tracks from the album. Various radio stations from around the world each premiered different tracks.[30] Two days later, he launched an interactive website including music by him and Sonic Boom, videos by Danny Perez, as well as graphics by Marco Papiro, Patakk, and Hugo Oliveira.[31] A short documentary detailing the creation, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, directed by Sam Fleischner, was released on January 29.[32]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic82/100[33]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[34]
The A.V. ClubB−[35]
The Guardian4/5 stars[36]
The Irish Times4/5 stars[37]
Mojo4/5 stars[38]
The Observer4/5 stars[39]
Pitchfork8.7/10[40]
Q4/5 stars[41]
Spin8/10[42]
Uncut8/10[43]

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper was praised by contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 82, based on 34 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[33]

Robin Murray of Clash complimented Panda Bear's use of his "perfect" tenor on "Mr Noah".[12] Writing for Consequence of Sound, Adam Kivel lauded the "multivalent" production of the album but criticized Panda Bear's choice not to deviate from his signature sound.[13] Matthew Ritchie of Exclaim! commended Panda Bear's lyrics and "expansive and deeply resonating melodies" that were presented on the album.[44] Writing for NOW, Samantha Edwards praised Panda Bear's vocals and their diversity throughout the album.[45] Jake Kennedy of Record Collector appreciated Panda Bear's ability to experiment.[46]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Accolade Year Rank
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2015 2015
Readers' Top 50 Albums 2015

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Noah Lennox, except "Davy Jones' Locker" and "Shadow of the Colossus", by Peter Kember.

Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper – Standard edition[1]
No.TitleLength
1."Sequential Circuits"3:35
2."Mr Noah"4:13
3."Davy Jones' Locker"0:35
4."Crosswords"3:36
5."Butcher Baker Candlestick Maker"3:07
6."Boys Latin"4:12
7."Come to Your Senses"7:23
8."Tropic of Cancer"6:12
9."Shadow of the Colossus"0:17
10."Lonely Wanderer"4:19
11."Principe Real"4:54
12."Selfish Gene"5:05
13."Acid Wash"3:42
Total length:51:10

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.[1]

  • Noah Lennox – JoMoX Xbase 999, Yamaha TX81Z, Moog Voyager, Elektron DPS-1, vocals, piano, effects, percussion, production, art direction
  • Rob Carmichael – layout
  • Simon Davey – mastering
  • Joaquim Monte – engineering
  • Hugo Oliveira – interior illustration
  • Marco Papiro – cover illustrations
  • Seen – art direction, layout
  • Pedro Silve – assistant engineering
  • Sonic Boom – EMS Synthi AKS, Fenix II Modular, Moog Voyager, vocoder, effects, production, mixing, art direction

Charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[50] 73
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[51] 136
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[52] 88
UK Albums (OCC)[53] 49
US Billboard 200[54] 34
US Digital Albums (Billboard)[55] 23
US Top Tastemaker Albums (Billboard)[56] 1
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[57] 3
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[58] 2
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[59] 4

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format(s) Label Ref.
Germany January 9, 2015 Domino [60][61][62]
France January 12, 2015
  • Digital download
  • CD
  • LP
[63][64][65]
Japan Digital download [66]
Spain [67]
United Kingdom
  • Digital download
  • CD
[68][69]
Italy January 13, 2015
  • Digital download
  • CD
  • LP
[70][71][72]
Spain
  • CD
  • LP
[73][74]
United States
  • Digital download
  • CD
  • LP
[75][76][77]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ The Guardian
  3. ^ Rolling Stone
  4. ^ Vinyl Mag
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