Caribou - Suddenly
Now feels like a good time to take stock of Dan Snaith's ridiculous decade. Before the release of his breakthrough Caribou album, Swim<..Wed Feb 26 06:00:00 GMT 2020
As Caribou, Dan Snaith’s output can be divided into two distinct periods. During the 2000s he was a sonic explorer, lashing together motorik grooves with 90s IDM and 60’s pych-pop on The Milk of Human Kindness and Andorra. During the last ten years Caribou settled into a newfound consistency: psych delivered through hypnotic and synthetic micro-house jams. Snaith said that he wanted those albums to evoke the feeling of water, and this album – whose cover depicts a pool of it – exists in the same sonic world. Suddenly doesn’t deliver the same catharsis of submersion however: it’s slippery, yes, but evasively so.
The genre collisions persist; lead single ‘You & I’ merges intricate IDM with the synth-pop of early Pet Shop Boys, and the combination of these sounds, triggered vocal loops and a whirling guitar solo at the songs’ end work seamlessly, like a well-executed house cut. But while smoother unions may sound appealing, without the exciting conflict of his earlier records these songs can slip into the indistinct, somehow rendering the coming together of eclectic reference points unremarkable. Other sonic choices don’t exactly help, such as the piano tone at the outset of ‘Lime’, which a hotel residency on the Costa del Sol may consider a little chintzy.
Some songs are more stirring. The hip-house vocals which break out of the otherwise breezy ‘Sunny’s Time’ are certainly a surprise. Genuinely rousing are ‘New Jade’ and ‘Home’, two funk-inflected house grooves, the latter of which kneads Gloria Barnes into a smile-inducing groove. But then there’s the too-long ‘Never Come Back’, which is predicated on the success of a rather plain female vocal loop. The cow-bells which arrive after four minutes cruelly hint at the furious dynamism of Snaith’s 2019 EP Sizzling, released under his Daphni moniker, inducing a craving for songs which are committed either to raucous dancefloor energy or entrancing ambience, rather than lurking ambivalently in the space between. ‘Cloud Song’ is a lovely, slowly-expanding closer, but while it has the mood of a contemplative comedown, it’s effectiveness is limited by the fact the songs that it follows didn’t hit in the first place. Snaith says that a life-changing event informed these songs, but on an emotional level this barely comes across, particularly in his vocal performances
I’m aware that this isn’t a popular criticism, but I find Snaith’s voice to be somewhat characterless. His words often denote high emotion, like when he proclaims “it’s always better when I’m with you” on ‘Magpie’, but his soft cooing hardly sells it. Sometimes his style works, such as on ‘Like I Loved You’; one of the albums best and – notably - most emotionally upfront. When Snaith asks “does he love you liked I love you / do you miss me like I miss you?” his soft delivery reads like barely-concealed torment. Interjected with a trembling mandolin, the song is a transcendent moment, but one which also underlines what’s absent about Suddenly at large. The narrative and sonic stylings of these songs have the aesthetic qualities of intimate music, but Snaith’s anonymous intonations, sometimes bathed in layers of muddy distortion, hold the listener at a frustrating distance. Like the album’s artwork it advertises transparency, but delivers only more obscurity.
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The Guardian 100
Dan Snaith’s project returns after five years away to confront grief and family, beautifully warping songs that are drenched in melody
Some artists’ careers seem to progress according to a carefully calculated plan, and there are others whose career seems to progress as a result of happy accidents and unexpected outcomes. Dan Snaith, who records as Caribou and Daphni, belongs firmly in the latter category. In the early 00s, he started out making critically acclaimed electronica that variously tilted towards psychedelia, krautrock and the wistful techno of Boards of Canada; he did it while studying for a PhD in pure mathematics, which added to its cerebral, rarefied air. There were artists who seemed less likely than Snaith to release an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger, but they largely resided in the realms of funeral doom metal and musique concrète.
This made it a surprise to everyone – including Snaith – when Sun, a track from 2010’s Swim, became an Ibiza-approved dancefloor banger. To compound his amazement further, Caribou unexpectedly went from being a live act who played small venues to audiences that seemed not unlike Snaith himself – a self-described “music nerdy-type person” – to a reliably festival-rousing draw. He described Swim’s follow-up, Our Love, as “mind-numbingly straightforward”. It was anything but – wildly unconventional and dealing in subtleties and weird juxtapositions, which didn’t stop it making the UK Top 10.Continue reading... Thu Feb 27 14:31:22 GMT 2020
Dan Snaith’s latest is as sly and layered as ever, but he finds ways to be more direct with his songwriting. There are no bum notes, no wasted motions, no corners of the audio spectrum left untouched.Mon Mar 02 06:00:00 GMT 2020
The Guardian 60
It’s a decade since Canadian producer Dan Snaith’s breakthrough fifth album, Swim, saw him usurp Hot Chip as your dance tent go-to when it’s midnight at an indie festival and you don’t feel like heading back to the family camping area just yet. In recent years, though, Snaith’s work as Caribou has moved inward, his clubbiest impulses channeled towards his other alias, Daphni. His last Caribou release, 2014’s Our Love, explored the birth of his daughter and the shifting, subtle emotional trip of family life. Suddenly maintains that domestic focus: his mother’s voice graces the sparsely emotional opener, Sister, while the standout Like I Loved You blooms from moody, late 90s-R&B melancholy as it explores everyday insecurities.
Sonically, the album pulls a little from all Snaith’s previous work: You and I has a cosmic retro chug reminiscent of M83; Cloud Song and Magpie indulge his psychy soft side; the fizzing Ravi and housey Never Come Back provide straight-up bangers. As such, it can feel a little lacking in direction – honed down from more than 900 home experiments, it’s eclectic almost to a fault, though there’s enough to treasure among its dreamy meanderings.Continue reading... Sun Mar 01 13:00:15 GMT 2020