Panda Bear's second album Young Prayer found musician Noax Lennox (who is also a member of the Animal Collective) creating a batch of stripped down songs that were a sort of aural reflection of his father's life after he passed away. Although certainly not as sad, Person Pitch had just as large of life events taking place for Lennox (marriage, moving overseas, becoming a father) during its creation, but they've resulted in a much, much different release. This time out, the more sparse acoustic-based atmosphere of his previous release has been traded in for a dense patchwork of songs that's absolutely stunning.
With seven songs running a long forty-five minutes, it's hard to say the album is more focused than Young Prayer, but it at least feels that way as every nook and cranny is packed with loads of melodies and bright instrumentation that certainly seems to reflect the city (Lisbon) he now finds himself living in. Opening with a field recording, "Comfy In Nautica" soon turns into an airy sing-along with hand-claps, a repeated choral phrase, and swirling sound effects. "Take Pills" starts out with hand percussion and some slowed-down guitar phrases before it morphs into a completely different song about halfway through, with tropical guitars, splashing water field recordings, and straight-up pop hook vocal harmonies that are gorgeous.
"Bros" is one of two songs that run over twelve minutes in length on the album, but like most tracks on the album it's absolutely packed with ideas. Again, multiple soaring vocal melodies and harmonies float over one another as chimes glint off a repeated guitar phrase. The songs builds gradually until it reaches a somewhat controlled racket during the middle, then shifts delightfully as both heavy strummed guitars and vocal sections move forwards and backwards during the latter third, culminating in a pretty ending that blends in horns, fireworks, and a slew of other sounds.
The only song on the album to have a more defined rhythm is the swirling tabla opening section of "Good Girl/Carrots," but even then it shifts several time throughout the course of twelve minutes, touching on quiet instrumental hip-hop beats and a spaced-out, dub-touched closing section that's yet another highlight. Really, it's hard to find many weak spots with the album. "I'm Not" is a particularly beautiful track, with filtered, backwards vocal loops and muffled kick drums that inch it forward. Essentially, Person Pitch is an amazing third album from the young musician, on a par with the best work of the Animal Collective. Striking just the right balance between melody, song, and experimentation, it's one of the best albums of the year so far.