Last year, one member of the slumbering Animal Collective released a solo project. Avey Tare’s new incarnation, called Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, was an excellent record showcasing one side of Animal Collective. This year we have been treated to the other side, with Panda Bear’s new solo album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. With these two releases coming out so close together, it gives Animal Collective fans a real opportunity to see how these two critical members have influenced the band.
Prior to hearing Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, I had not heard any of Panda Bear’s solo material. Upon first listen, I was intrigued but not overly impressed. I am not surprised, however, to find that after a few runs through the record it is rapidly growing on me. Let this be a formal warning to any of you who are not familiar with Animal Collective or Panda Bear and are checking out this album: it is very unlikely that the album(s) will click with you the first time around, so give it a chance to get familiar. That being said, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is a much easier record to listen to then anything from Avey Tare.
Where Avey Tare is the harsh, dissonant, and eclectic side of Animal Collective, Panda Bear is smoother, spacier, and more concerned with atmosphere and ambiance. To me, it was remarkable how the difference in sound between Enter the Slasher House and Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is similar to the difference between Strawberry Jam and Merriweather Post Pavilion. Panda Bear’s new record contains more pop, it’s a little slower, and you could even call it more melodic. I personally prefer the harsher side of Animal Collective, meaning I prefer Strawberry Jam to Merriweather Post Pavilion, and I therefore enjoyed Avey Tare’s last solo effort to Panda Bear’s new release. Nevertheless, I am definitely enjoying Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper and will continue to listen in order to fully appreciate it.
Any fan of Animal Collective or Panda bear will have a great time with this album. To those of you who aren’t familiar, I would recommend starting with Merriweather Post Pavilion. If that suits your needs, then your next step is to listen to Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper.