Dusted Reviews

Panda Bear - Young Prayer

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Panda Bear

Album: Young Prayer

Label: Paw Tracks

Review date: Sep. 29, 2004

After a stunning new record and a series of live sets scattered across the country, everyone's eyes are on Brooklyn's Animal Collective. Undaunted by the increased attention, Panda Bear (one-half of the current AC) has released his first widely available solo record, Young Prayer. Recorded after the passing of his father in 2002, and thus well before Sung Tongs, Panda Bear's solo disc stems from a much different time and place (in more ways than one) than any of the music he has made in a group context.

Of the nine unnamed tracks that comprise the disc's 29 minutes, few if any come close to song, even in the Animal Collective's highly expanded sense of the word. What emerges rather is a series of deeply personal, and yet somewhat obtuse ruminations based in sound. The means here are largely familiar territory - acoustic guitars jangle intermittently alongside vocal chants and the occasional stomp of percussion or handclap - but the end result emerges quite a ways off from the output of the Bear's main project. While that group's sound often results in highly communal song explorations, listening to Young Prayer at times feels like eavesdropping on the subtle emotional ebbs and flows that make up the mourning process.

The album begins simply, with gentle guitar and arched vocals that effectively set the mood for the following pieces. There is a deep sadness that permeates much of the music, and the lack of typical structure takes the proceedings far from simplistic singer-songwriter terrain. The third track ushers in delicate piano lines that hint at subtle uplifting moments, while the fourth deals effectively with gentle tone shifts and cycles guitar and vocal melodies that create an ambience simultaneously haunting and frantic. The seventh track is easily the most enlightening, as Panda Bear deals primarily with far off reverberations that casually approach the front of the speakers, with his vocals achieving a sunken operatic quality. The piano tracks return to close out the album, making good use of stereo separation to heighten the otherworldly vibe of the Bear's vocals.

The result is similar to the Campfire Songs project that emerged in 2003 - simple, basic ideas that expand in the context of a performance on a whim's notice. There is less to hold here, and lesser still to fault. Its brevity and emotional gravity distinguish Young Prayer, its apt title mirroring the transition and upheaval. The initial pleasure of past Animal Collective albums is missing, but that may be the point. Panda Bear's grasp of the sublime makes this disc more than worth checking out.

By Michael Crumsho

Other Reviews of Panda Bear

I'm Not / Comfy In Nautica

Person Pitch


Read More

View all articles by Michael Crumsho

Find out more about Paw Tracks

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.