Panda Bear - Young Prayer [Paw Tracks - 2004]A good 16 months ago, I heard about Animal Collective for the first time. They were one of the first band to play at the Fat Cat festival in Hasselt, Belgium, and I was quite looking forward to hear what they were actually on about.
I almost run away. It was crap. KERRRAP! Three guys were sat and playing guitar and singing. Actually, they weren’t playing, they weren’t singing. They were just doing things. They were just in front of us acting like fools. Might sound good to some, but if you’ve come for the music… Err, disappointed was I. Since then, their reputation grew and grew. Their cd’s sold quite well and they played quite a few gigs. My roommate started digging them. What I heard didn’t impress me, but it was better than what I saw live. So when I got the opportunity to listen to the brand new solo album of one of the Collective’s member, I took it.
Young prayer is a sort of elegiac poem. It was composed and recorded at Panda Bear’s childhood home a little after his father’s death. The album is a collection of reflections about life and death, or more precisely about dying.
I have no doubt recording this album was a deep, soulful, if not cathartic, experience for Panda Bear. The problem is that it does nothing for me. I’ve got no problem with bad musicians and bad singers. Quite a few of them manage to transcend the technical limitations to sing and play some very personal work that will reach many people. But the poor singing and poor guitar playing is, on this record, very annoying. Panda Bear laments, and it makes me want to lament too, but not for the good reasons. His guitar strumming is inaudible (as in “impossible to actually listen to the sounds and enjoy them”). I know I will sound like a cock to people who like Animal Collective, but it’s the first time I heard something this badly played since a friend of mine gave me the demo of this dude who plays an untuned guitar and sing horribly out of key. They told me: who cares, it’s the mood, the honesty that matters. Sorry, Sir, I don’t listen to honesty, I listen to music, and all I hear here is piss poor.
If you’d like to listen to free folk, you’d be more inspired to listen to Six organs of admittance, Devendra Banhart, Charalambides or Cocorosie. Animal Collective? Definitely not.François Monti