In recent year, artists have followed a trend of releasing companion EPs to their most recent album. The ubiquity of these EPs is not surprising: with low royalty payments from streaming platforms and less actual sales, artists need to get what they can from their offcuts. EPs featuring new material are becoming uncommon, and new releases such as Panda Bear’s A Day With the Homies a rarity – especially as it’s limited to vinyl only.
There’s a degree of the unconventional at play, but even without precedent, the novelty of Noah Lennox’s creation ends here. A Day With the Homies is a minor work and thinking about its occasion is more interesting than the music itself. The songs are distant from the Arcadian worlds rendered in his albums and opt to derive power from “the deeper zones of the frequency spectrum” rather than imbue his usual colour and collage. Only opener ‘Flight’ harmonises with what Panda Bear usually sets out yet the nonsense verses are pale impressions written for their melodious quality rather than any literal meaning. The commitment to these frequencies means they exist without linear movement and translate as aggressive and direct, tinging the music as monochromatic and austere. The mechanical drone of ‘Part of The Math’ features a female vocalist intoning the mantra “open your eyes”, yet it offers nothing revelatory. ‘Shepard Tone’ should ascend but is fixed to a motorik pattern, segueing into the overloaded ‘Nod to The Folks’ which presses the senses like a migraine.
While A Day With the Homies may be an experiment, it is an outlier that features the least organic strains in a discography rich with texture and playfulness. Its actual jury will be Panda Bear’s most ardent supporters and whether this EP is a holdover to a more significant body of work only Lennox knows. For now, it suits him that this distinctly unremarkable offering is only exclusive to a privileged few.