Animal Collective frontman Panda Bear has now completed five excursions into solo territory, and his latest is more of a stripped back affair. Whereas albums like ‘Person Pitch’ went for the jugular with big textures and Brian Wilson-influenced harmonies, ‘Buoys’ pares things back to reveal the songs in leaner form. Unfortunately, this is not always to his advantage, as he has quite a penetrating voice, which does tend to work well with bigger sounds but can become piercing on the quieter, more intimate moments he shares with listeners here. That said, there are some carefully considered songs. The steady drip of ‘Dolphin’ is effective, as is the nagging melody of ‘Token’ – both strongly communicated and using a template of voice, acoustic guitar and a number of sonic effects with half beats, panning and multi-layered atmospherics. The effects work best on headphones and complement the voice best here too. The songs are quite plaintive and deeply personal, revealing an aspect to Panda Bear’s solo writing we have not heard before. If not fully effective, it is an engaging listen.
Ben Hogwood. 4 out of 5