I like the melody of “You Can Count on Me” and because the ambiguity of whether or not he’s singing “No you can’t count on me” or “Know you can count on me.” But ultimately, Panda Bear’s newfound love of throat singing hurts instead of helps – you’ll need a babel fish to decode the rest of these songs, a terrible thing when you recall that the lyrics of Person Pitch and Merriweather Post Pavilion were so heart-warming. Elsewhere, “Last Night at the Jetty” has the best rhythm (thanks to the squishy bass) and the best melody (in the bridge at the 1:45 mark), and is the best song. The question “Didn’t I / we have a good time?” nicely recalls Person Pitch‘s “Comfy in Nautica” and is the only time the album ever reminds me of the greatness of Panda Bear’s previous solo output; “Take Pills” and “Bros” seem like miracles if you go chronologically backwards from here. After that, both “Tomboy” and “Slow Motion” are decent, though the former’s conclusion is unfortunately drawn out by at least 30 seconds and is ultimately bathetic.
But yeah, this album isn’t much of anything at all and my initial fondness with it was simply because the tunes are direct and I had heard most of them before; after all, seven of these eleven songs were released before the album dropped. As promised, Panda Bear ditches samples so he can concentrate more on guitars and rhythms; he namedrops both Nirvana and the White Stripes (as if these bands had anything to do with rhythm in the first place) as influences in interviews. Bad idea: the guitar playing is all electric guitar fed through reverb until it’s indistinguishable. Elsewhere, he recycles the soft-soft-soft-LOUD beat of “Slow Motion” onto “Last Night of the Jetty,” and the riff of “Slow Motion” is the exact same as the one on “Alsatian Darn.” “Drone” and “Scheherazade” (which sounds like him singing over a new age song) are both testament to the fact that maybe Panda Bear / Animal Collective suck when they’re not giving the listener a sensory overload. And placing the album’s longest tracks, “Friendship Bracelet” and “Afterburner,” one after the other, was a bad idea; they’ll make the same tracklisting mistake on Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz. I’m willing to bet that Animal Collective won’t put out a single album worth talking about in the new decade, but I want to be proven wrong.