Panda Bear - Buoys (Album Review)

Some records are so weird, that they become captivating in their own special way. You never know what’s around the corner, and that’s just the case for Panda Bear‘s new record. In Buoys, Panda Bear channels his emotions through frenetic soundscapes and avant garde production styles, and while he doesn’t quite hit any climaxes, he creates something challenging and special in its own right.

The initial weirdness of Buoys is what straps you in for the ride. The bubbly start of ‘Dolphin‘ kicks the record off, introducing the Animal Collective member’s frantic sound with a mixture of percussion, samples, and vocals. Many tracks on this record are pretty weird, but have some element to them that keep them pleasing in odd ways. ‘Token‘ is a good example, the song having an overall weird vibe to it, but is melodically pleasing all the same. ‘Inner Monologue‘ keeps things calm but odd, ultimately resolving in a pretty cool end to the track with spacey synths and a nice atmosphere.

Weirdness can come at a cost if you don’t do things correctly, and unfortunately that’s the case in Buoys. Panda Bear does a great job at introducing his unique sound, yet some tracks just don’t hit the mark. ‘Master‘ is one of the first tracks that really doesn’t add much to the album, the slow march movement ultimately feeling kind of empty by the end. Title track ‘Buoys‘ follows up, sounding like a more fleshed out version of ‘Master,’ which makes for a pretty awkward transition between the two. Most tracks just don’t have a climax and don’t leave much of an impact: the odd but folky ‘I Know I Don’t Know’ and the inconsequential ending track ‘Home Free‘ are both examples.

A weird record is often a memorable one, but only if it’s done correctly. Panda Bear falls short in Buoys, not offering enough tracks that sound fleshed out but getting caught up in wild, frenetic soundscapes. The genius of Panda Bear obviously can not be questioned, but this record does not do a great job of exemplifying it.

Favorite Track: Inner Monologue

Least Favorite Track: Master

Rating: 60 / 100

Stream or buy Buoys on Apple Music, and follow our 2019 Playlist on Spotify: