The noise surrounding Person Pitch, the third solo outing from Panda Bear (a.k.a. Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox), has reached a fever pitch in recent months. Pundits, pretenders and everyone in between have engaged in a superlative-chucking contest that might as well involve a ruler and some dropped drawers for how self-serving it all is. But here’s an opinion that’s knee-jerk-hyperbole free (and won’t, I hope, leave me feeling terribly embarrassed a few months down the line): Person Pitch is not the second coming of Pet Sounds. It’s not the greatest musical achievement of this young century, either. It could be among the best albums released this year when the dust settles, but even that’s jumping the gun.
So, what is Person Pitch then? For starters, it’s not unlike its predecessor, 2004’s Young Prayer, in that it deals with the deeply personal in an altogether cryptic fashion. While the former saw Lennox coming to grips with the death of his father, Person Pitch is the product of his life changes in recent years: a move to Lisbon, marriage and fatherhood. Both albums are entirely solitary in their aesthetic; fitting, as they’re each the product of Lennox holing himself in a room to tap into his creative core.
Where the albums fork is in their execution. Where Young Prayer was a stripped-down acoustic affair, Person Pitch was made almost exclusively with two BOSS SP-303 samplers; it comprises a dizzying array of old records, field recordings and instrumental riffs that are intricately assembled and, summarily, drowned in reverb. The ethereal pop melodies invite predictable Brian Wilson comparisons, but the songs’ underlying structure, with their reliance on repetition and reverb, owe more to dub than anything else.
Although it’s certainly inventive in approach and execution, there’s no denying that Person Pitch sees Lennox working within decidedly pop-centric parameters. As such, it’ll be interesting to see just how much the album will appeal outside its predetermined critical acclaim. Despite its excessive run time, “Bros” is probably the best “pop” song I’ve heard all year, and it could conceivably net Lennox a wider audience than the Collective’s esoteric sounds ever will (Crayola commercials notwithstanding). We should get Zach Braff on this, stat.
Artist Website: http://www.myspace.com/rippityrippity
Label Website: http://www.paw-tracks.com/