Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #78 Panda Bear
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#78 Panda Bear
For the longest time it was hard to separate Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) from his Animal Collective brethren. After all, he's known Deakin since second grade and he's been a part of every A.C. release dating back to 2000. Even though the music thrives on weirdness, there's something about an Animal Collective album that suggests its members gallop along in a freakish mental lockstep.
It took 2004's Young Prayer, an intimate and coddling affair, to peel Panda Bear away from his home project – it was sparser and more direct than anything Animal Collective has offered. Simply, it was like Panda Bear stepped back and took a deep musical breath. But it wasn't until 2007's Person Pitch that he really defined his sound – oblong epic washes teeming with jittery textures that seemingly run deeper than the ear can hear. He took that dead horse of a word – "soundscape" – and resuscitated it to monumental effect. Whereas the Collective hinges on yelps and verbal tics and freak pop that out-freaks the rest of the genre, Panda Bear settles himself into a warm trance, conducting a train ride along a coutryside oversaturated with beauty. In a decade where his main gig has amassed a rabid following, Panda Bear had every right to make his solo project more of the same. Instead, he had the gusto to branch off into a bewilderingly different direction – and the skill to produce two stellar releases in the face of colossal expectations.