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on April 15, 2011
With just one review so far, I think we should get the ball rolling on Tomboy...

This is a very sucessful album. As many reviews have mentioned, Tomboy is not necessarily a 'follow-up' album to Person Pitch. The sound is simpler in a way that is hard to describe. The melody, idea, hook, or whatever, behind each song is simpler but the mood of each song and the spacey atmospheric production makes simple sound BIG. Listen at high volume.

The sound: not exactly organic as some reviews would have one think. Imagine heavily processed guitar over a simple beat, with layer after layer of reverberating vocals. The obvious reference might be the infamous 'wall of sound' but I really don't have another record that sounds like this one.

Tomboy has an interesting history because of the rather odd way in which it was slowly secreted by its creator. Panda has toured these songs and released many in a rawer form as 7" singles. This has given the listener the odd choice of having a choice. The work of Sonic Boom on the LP version of these songs is certainly noticable. If one word has been used as jornalistic shorthand to describe the music of Panda Bear and his legions, it is "nostalgic". Sonic Boom knows this adjective; in fact, MGMT's Boom produced album Congratulations has beocme one of this reviewers go-to records due to this nostaligic touch that is heard in songs such as "I Found A Whistle" and "Siberian Breaks". He was an excellent choice to mix these songs for the LP. The synth line on Tomboy is one example of a welcome addition that his mixes have provided, as are the percussive additions to "Last Night at the Jetty" and "Slow Motion".

Surprises include the pulsing "Afterburner", the sole track that Panda is willing to stretch to any great length. Also a welcome surprise is the download of the 9/11/10 show that Panda played at Governor's Island, NY - this bootleg was a wonderful audience recording made even more pristine with the mastering touch of Sonic Boom...BONUS!!

Drones, repetition, and ecccchoohooohooohooo. These are good things.
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on April 23, 2011
Having considered myself a devotee of all things related to Animal Collective, I was thrilled to hear some advance tracks from Panda Bear's third solo album, "Person Pitch." The 12 minute "Bros" was (and is) simply stunning to me. Panda Bear's voice had long been the honeyed chaser to Avey Tare's more manic delivery in Animal Collective, but here that beautiful yearning coo was the main focus of the music, mixed with washes of hazy synths and drifting in a hypnotically repetitive epic that owed as much to minimalist techno as to Brian Wilson and hippie jam bands. Perhaps most impressively, the sound of "Bros" was a significant departure in sound from anything anyone from the Collective had done previously, including Panda's own solo work. Surely, this was a sign that the AC spirit was going strong, and promised many more releases showcasing their restless experimentalism and constant evolution of sound.

Alas, I was a bit disappointed with the proper release of Person Pitch. I belong to a minority of people who feel that PP would have been much more effective and impressive as an EP rather than as a full album. For me, "Take Pills," "Bros," "I'm Not," and "Good Girl/Carrots" sound fantastic on their own, and are brought down by the surrounding tracks. I realize that this is heresy to some, but I found myself overdosing on the syrupy sweetness of the album as a whole. I enjoyed certain tracks, but waited anxiously for the next AC-related release to offer some nice contrast to Panda's Wall of Pet Sounds experiment.

For the most part, AC's Strawberry Jam (released shortly after Person Pitch) did offer a new direction in sound (some a bit questionable to me, see review for details), although Panda's contributions were again sunny, Wilson-inspired numbers, somewhat reminiscent of PP. Then, 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion demonstrated an embrace by the entire band of Panda's feel-good sugar time approach to music. Of course, I thought it sounded pleasant enough, but it became clear that my fearless heroes of experimental tribal music were starting to show signs of creative satiety. As critical praise for the band continued to increase, my hope in the old AC philosophy began to diminish. And, looking back, it all had started with Panda's Person Pitch.

So now we have Panda's fourth solo outing, "Tomboy." Panda has stated that he didn't want this to be a retread of Person Pitch, and there are indeed some differences, like using treated guitars and drums rather than samples for his arrangements. But let's not kid ourselves: these are very minor variations on the now-canonical PP sound: ethereal, meditative repetition with Panda's voice treated to sound like a drugged up Heavenly Host at the beach. Strong moments are to be found, for sure, such as the melancholy "Slow Motion" and the spacious "Scheherazade." Like Person Pitch, though, this release would have been better presented as an EP of its most essential cuts. Listening to the whole album, its true moments of fragile beauty are bogged down not only by the less inspired tracks, but by the overload of droning ethereal sweetness that has come to be Panda's trademark.

Compare this with his second album, "Young Prayer," and notice how affecting and beautiful the stark arrangements and production can be. Also notice how different in sound that one is from "Person Pitch."

I realize that some people can't get enough of this canonical PP sound, but I just wish he'd try something else.

If you're like me, you'll take the best songs from this one and enjoy a Tomboy EP, while waiting for another artist to fill the creative void that AC has decided to leave (currently, I'm hoping that Gang Gang Dance's new album will deliver).
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on November 29, 2013
It took me a while to warm up to this album, and now, I have no idea why. This album is amazing, nothing short of a brilliant follow-up to Person Pitch. With the limited ed. 4 LP set, there's even a bonus track included (The Preakness) not found on other pressings.

As mentioned in another review, the arrangement of tracks is somewhat different due to the bonus track, but for such a good cut, missing out on the infinite runout is a small price to pay for The Preakness.

Presentation here is great! Sturdy box with individual LP sleeves for each record and an art book.

The 3rd and 4th records are bonus discs that include single mixes, instrumentals, and acapellas. The acapellas are a bit misleading, in the sense that they don't have additional vocal tracks recorded to replace the instruments, they're more "vocal tracks only" versions. Still very interesting to hear given the talent of Mr. Noah Lennox.
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on April 20, 2011
Tomboy definitely isn't Person Pitch, and though I do prefer Person Pitch overall, Tomboy demands just as much respect. Tomboy is signature Panda Bear style in the way of the droning vocals, but here the "droning" aspect expands into the music as well. It is a definitely a peaceful album, almost to the point where it creates a floating feeling. All the tracks are worth listening to, but the standouts are "Last Night at the Jetty", "Slow Motion", "Scheherazade", and "Afterburner". Definitely check this one out. Now when's the next Animal Collective album coming out...
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on February 14, 2014
Where Person Pitch is a purely digital deconstruction of the analog sounds that shaped modern American pop music (especially Brian Wilson/Beach Boys), Tomboy finds Panda Bear using the sampler to add percussion and sound effects that contribute to an original guitar-based sound.

If you've ever heard Sung Tongs or Feels by Animal Collective (Panda's band), these guys are pretty good at colorizing the most common of chord progressions. The singing on this record and Person Pitch is cryptic and ambiguous; Panda Bear wants you to hear the vocals as another instrument. You don't need to know the lyrics to feel the record. The reverb on the guitar and the vocals creates an interplay that, at times, gives off the impression that a full band is making the sounds on this record. Yet one man with a guitar in front of a small soundboard is making them.

The songs without a guitar track (Surfer's Hymn, Drone, Scheherazade, Benefica) act as softer ambient movements, though Surfer's Hymn has more of that punch that the guitar songs have than the others.

This album could have been a classic in the vein of Person Pitch. If you enjoy this record, you should look up some early performances of the songs on Youtube, from 2010. Animal Collective always developed their songs on tour extensively before they recorded them, but they always sounded better and sharpened in the end. The mix on this LP throws too much noise on what are already awesome minimal sonics. The sparseness of the live performances could have worked well on record. Just a personal preference. Overall, this is a great and creative record that I will continue listening to for years to come. Person Pitch, of course, is his best, a seminal work in electronic music.
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on January 22, 2012
A different animal that its seminal predecessor, an album I discovered soon after starting my Animal Collective fandom. Like many others, I consider it one of the finest in the groups' collective canon. Simultaneously airy and dense, it had the visionary breadth of a creative individual staying true to all his whims and felt really inspired, giving us songs that were diverse, sprawling and at the end of the day extremely memorable, and absolutely none of it felt forced.

Noax Lennox mentions having listened to "Nevermind" incessantly while recording this and while from a musical standpoint has little in common with that album, there are parallels to be heard in the emphatic feel of vocal lines and his isolative approach to repeating certain measures (maybe I'm reaching but the constant repetitions of phrases in these songs aren't worlds removed from the unforgettable "a denial"s and chorus mantras of that iconic recording). That's where the comparisons end. I liken Tomboy to a singles collection padded out with a few songs that at their worst border on unnecessary and at best enliven the very strong first side. At first listen what's immediately noticeable is how sparse these songs sound. Indie rock choir music? Further listens reveal this to be deceiving.

While "Person Pitch" had about a hundred different things happening at once with easy to discern musical hooks, such as the guitar samples in "Bros" or a drum pattern, most of Tomboy is hinged on his vocal carrying music that's nowhere near conventional. Everything here is so overly washed in reverb that it creates the feeling of being in the world's largest outdoors auditorium, but alone and on a beautiful spring day. The musical elements like I mentioned aren't as grabbing as before but do enough to keep the song moving. Disconcerting sound effects, heavily processed guitars, glacial and arpeggiated synthesizer, snare hits that on every measure sound like they're transforming into sugary clouds for the watery world around them that this music creates. The highpoints are "Last Night at the Jetty", "Slow Motion" and "Friendship Bracelet". These songs capture what this album does best. Lennox's vocals have a hypnotizing effect that makes Tomboy great either for immersive listening or for background relaxation. Recommended.
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on November 4, 2011
`Tom Boy' really is a lazy Sunday morning of an album, like most of us it takes the best part of a quarter of an hour to move through the gears and really get going. The good news is that when it finally wakes up it opens it's eyes to a glorious, distinctly tropical new day.

So the first three songs constitute little more than a stretch and a yawn of sleepy beats and repetitive Beach Boys harmonising - they barely register for me, pleasant enough though unmemorable. It is at this point I should admit that I sit on the Avey Tare side of Animal Collective's very own McCartney vs Lennon type debate. Just like Paul I find Noah's compositions can edge towards the cosy, the twee, perhaps even entering slightly trad pop territory thanks to those vocals, while I find Portner's material to be generally more direct, wilder, sometimes excitingly freakish.

This is not to say that I can't appreciate Lennox's approach and this release does contain some of his best ever moments. `Alsatian Darn', particularly the second half, and the lengthy `Afterburner' are both strong tracks that envelop you slowly, eventually drawing you into their expansive tropical soundscapes. This is certainly an album to close your eyes and immerse yourself in. `Scheherezade' is another winner, an Eno influence is in evidence here - it is a simply beautiful and otherworldly moment of meditative calm.

There are also a couple of more straightforward songs to enjoy - `Surfer's Hymn' opens with the sound of the tide lapping on the shore and what sound like heavily layered and sped up wind chimes, and the adorable `Last night at the Jetty' which is built around by far the most addictive vocal performance on the album. The problem is that around every corner is a stretch of music where I start thinking `not a lot actually going on here' and my attention starts to wander - it might be on the seemingly never ending formless vocals and bird sounds/monkey calls (?) on `Friendship Bracelet', it might be listening to the meandering harmonising of the closing `Benefica', nothing so unappealing as to shock you out of the experience and break the spell but enough to take a little gloss off `Tom Boy'.

For Animal Collective fans this is a must and anyone who enjoyed `Person Pitch' should also find much to enjoy here - Panda Bear wakes you up gently into his world and it is certainly a pleasant place to find yourself in, although not so wondrous as to guarantee you won't ever start drifting off and dreaming of leaving for adventures new.
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on May 8, 2012
Panda Bear's Tomboy was one of my favorite records of 2011, so I sold my single LP copy so I could buy this. The single copy is worth around $20, The 4LP box set is worth around $30. I think the $10 price bump is worth it.

The box set records are black, not white, which was a little disappointing, but not a big deal. This set doesn't come with a download card like the single LP version does. The single LP is split into two LPs with a bonus track on side three. You'll need to switch the record twice as often for the same album. There isn't an infinite runoff grove of drone on the last track like there is on the single LP set.

The bonus track is very cool. The real treats here are the third LP of the single mixes. It's basically the entire album, remixed, in a different track order. I loved the original mixes produced by sonic boom, and hearing essentially the same album before and after his modifications is awesome. The box set also comes with instrumentals and a capellas on select tracks. There's also a lyrics book, which is good because you can't tell anything the singer is saying just by listening.

If you don't mind having black vinyl instead of white vinyl and don't mind switching the side twice as often, and having the infinite drone on Benfica isn't a deal breaker, for $10 more you get a bonus track, a ton more artwork, a lyrics book, and the entire album remixed. I thought it was worth it. All profits, according to the sticker on the front, go to the american cancer society.
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on November 28, 2011
Well I suppose I should begin by saying that I bought this album exclusively because I was just so entranced by Person Pitch that it only seemed essential that I bought this one. It is very different, and at first I was severely dissapointed because I fell in love with the real-world samples that tied the tracks of Panda Bear's previous album together so seamlessly. This is not the case with Tomboy, but since I own it, I often blast it in my car when I'm just in that kinda mood. I prefer my music LOUD, and this sounds best very loud on a quality stereo. So granted, this album is certainly it's own entity. If you're like me, then chill out; it just takes some time to sink in before it will permeate your soul, just as Person Pitch is an aquired taste(or any AnimalCollective, for that matter). If you want more seamless beauty then go check out Avey Tare's Down There. It's just wonderful, deffinately next on my list, then perhaps Young Prayer.
Enjoy alternate ambiance, always!
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on June 30, 2013
I first became interested in PB and this release when I heard that Pete (Sonic Boom) Kember was producing it. Prior to that I had only heard of Animal Collective and certainly didn't know who Panda Bear even was. Good thing. Thanks to Pete I checked out a song on Youtube, then another, then another. Then I went and bought the CD!! It's thick atmospherics and waves of sound pour over the distorted vocals (that sound like hes singing inside a church, empty in the first rays of morning sun) hypnotizing you and drawing you in. The overall feel is a sorta hushed psychedelia riding along on a meth-distorted mix. The cd flows nicely and ends beautifully with the song Benfica. Opener You Can Count On Me, Tomboy, Slow Motion and Afterburner are my favorite tracks that make this cd a refreshing change when you want to listen to something "different" and beautiful. One of the best cd's I have bought in a while. If you are a true fan of alternative music check this out
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