Panda Bear

Fans of Animal Collective member Panda Bear's solo efforts are truly the Justin Bieber fans of the indie universe. While "Beliebers" attended the star's movie Never Say Never 3D and started screaming, swooning and singing, Panda Bear lovers turned up praying, meditating and spiritually levitating for a listening session of their cooing leader's Tomboy album in New York back in February. These performers make for an interesting comparison: Panda Bear and Justin Bieber arguably sing in the same key; their supporters know all their lyrics — even from unreleased songs — and hang out on forums to discuss bootlegs, live shows and rumors.

The only difference is that 75 percent of Panda Bear's fans are post-pubescent males. At the listening party, his fans fuss over every note, holding their drinks until each song's end and then gushing about each track upon its completion. In retrospect, Panda Bear was certainly right about his record. Last year, he described the disc as "really serious and almost heavy-handed ... serious in kind of like a sacred way."

This idea best applies to the second half of the album: "Drone" and "Scheherazade," for instance, sound like Justin Bieber slowed down 800 times without altering the pitch — startlingly majestic, sprawling and, of course, sacred. The real winner is "Afterburner," which features triumphant pipe percussion and Panda Bear's amorphous, unintelligible swoon.


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