Hyponik

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Caribou – ‘Our Love’ (City Slang)

With heavy anticipation Dan Snaith’s sixth album as Caribou has come out of the fold four years after his triumphant breakthrough with ‘Swim’ (2010). Just like the last record bridged the gap between the Canadian boffin’s psychedelic endeavours of yesteryear as both Caribou and Manitoba with the more whimsical side of the dance music spectrum, the past four years have seen seasons of change along the course of his kaleidoscopic career path. Fully embracing the pop sensibilities which the Caribou project had been exceedingly leaning towards, this latest work has comperehensively realised that idea. Infusing catchy songwriting with the driving underground and Rave sounds he’s been exploring under the Daphni project, we’ve now reached a point where this musician’s advanced sound design and vocal tendencies are instantly recognisable.

Opener ‘Can’t Do Without You’ appeared right on queue to become the unofficial of many a European festival this summer. Blatantly corny, it’s sequenced for FM airtime. Snaith’s murmuring vocals laid atop pitched-down hooks and boisterous melodies which ascend like feverent escelators into the clouds go on to reach a farcical plain of euphoric glam-o-rama. Undeniably catchy, this has real mass-appeal. As the track fades away it leaves a warm afterglow as epitomised with the kiss off, “And you know you’re the one I dream about, I couldn’t do without you”. It’s dedicated to Snaith’s own wife, although the sentiment was admittedly diminished after she heard it blared from the depths of his basement studio for the thousandth time.

The essence of Greek composer Vangelis is channeled on ‘Silver’, as it’s melody takes us on a neon tinged night drive while Snaith utters sweet nothings, “I wish I never met you – I doesn’t mean I can’t get over you” and a female vocal sample loops like an added percussive element throughout the duration of the track. Classic Caribou/Manitoba hoof marks are to be found all over tracks such as ‘Dive’ and ‘Mars’. The submerged melodies and warm slinky synths of the former come in and out of focus faster than your iPhone can load a sepia-tone filter and the latter is the standout track on this record. Flutes bring us marching forward and Snaith’s atmospheric pads, big booming effects and intelligent drum programming display just how full circle his sound design skills have become.

Sadly there’s no love for the title track which is an unforgivably un-subtle pastiche of Kevin Saunderson’s 1988 ultra-hit ‘Good Life’ with Detroit’s Inner City. It sounds wrong and causes one to wince. The offbeat melody of ‘Second Chance’ doesn’t gel particularly well with Jessy Lanza’s pristine vocal chords which melt like butter all over the staggered synths. It should work, but it doesn’t – a shame really.

The cultivated Daphni sound is particularly noticeable on ‘Julia Brightly’. It’s 2-step melody has dance floor credibility and if anyone was going to pull off using a flanger effectively in 2014, it would have to be Caribou. The complete live experience is mandatory in fully feeling the emotive wrath of ‘Back Home’. Those booming synths were made to be played loud, and if then still you don’t get shivers down the backs of your arms and legs, you’ve got a heart of stone. ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’ is a late night cry of lust and the sleeper of the record. The playful melody is embellished with sporadic guitar strumming and a full string ensemble and appeasing bleeps and blips appear to ring us home.

So basically, after four years Caribou is back. Production values are sky high and without taking too many risks, this balding middle-aged dude in Birkenstocks has successfully straddled the line between mainstream Pop and underground dance music with a gusto unlike any other producer out there today. Despite being rather safe and featuring some undoubtedly poor decisions, this album is going to send Snaith and his band somersaulting into the upper echelons of the Pop universe.

‘Our Love’ is available to buy on vinyl and digital now. You can order it here

Conor McTernan