December 13, 2004

Panda Bear "Young Prayer"

Over the last few years, Noah Lennox (known lovingly to those in the know as Panda Bear) has proven that he is capable of interesting, unique musical explorations. As part of the Animal Collective, Panda Bear has made some music that qualifies as interesting--just listen to the amazing Sung Tongs or Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They're Vanished, and you'll hear a young man who doesn't let inhibition hold back from musical exploration. Wanna meow as a cat? Go for it! Wanna make all kinds of noises? Sure,why not?

Recently going through the tragedy of losing his father, he decided to pay tribute in the way he knows best: through music. Young Prayer was recorded in the room where his father passed away, it's most certainly a record that reflects upon the universal feelings that come with death: sadness and melancholy. Lennox has eschewed song titles, giving the entire record the feeling of being one long, continuous suite. Because the music is so varied, such a device actually gives the record a stronger, more cohesive feel. From the gentle piano of "Track Nine" to the guitar strumming on "Track Four" and to the clapping, one man drum circle of "Track Five," Panda Bear never fails to be anything less than engaging, and he never fails to convey the range of emotions that come from the death of a parent, even though he never says a word.

Growing up, my father always used to say 'the blues isn't a sound, it's a feeling.' Though Young Prayer is not a concept album about his father's death and life, but you do get the distinct feeling of loss and sadness and youth and life through Panda Bear's emotion. Young Prayer is sad, yet it's hopeful; it's detatched, yet it's loving; it's difficult, yet it's universal; it says nothing, yet it says everything. It's a stunningly beautiful testament to the power of the unsung song, and is quietly one of this year's musical highlights.

--Joseph Kyle

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