first impressions: caribou – swim

*this first impression comes courtesy of mr. dan snaith himself, who is currently streaming his new album in its entirety over at his soundcloud page.

three years after wowing everyone with the kaleidoscopic ’60s swirl of andorra, the man behind caribou has returned with his musical aspirations firmly planted in the present, particularly modern dance and electronica. true the its aquatic title, swim boasts fluid sonic textures with glistening surfaces that bare more echoes of junior boys than beach boys this time around. this change may come as unexpected to some but should be no less welcome to all, as dan snaith has another (albeit different) triumph on his hands.

couple more immediate observations upon first listen after the jump…

  • in addition to junior boys, this album owes as much of its sound to the mid-’80s avant-disco of the late, great arthur russell
  • i didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me over the weekend, but the refrain in album opener and lead single “odessa” sounds like “chicken steak.” i wouldn’t be all that surprised if that actually was what snaith was singing.
  • “sun’s” lyrics literally consist of snaith repeating the title over and over again atop washed out synth squiggles. the effect is rapturously hypnotic.
  • “bowls” almost beats pantha du prince at his own game. where’s your noah lennox guest spot, dan?
  • the only noticeable remnant of andorra‘s sound appears at the album’s midway point via a flute line in the propulsive “leave house.” it’s a nice touch that reminds one of snaith’s past success without dwelling or depending on it.
  • unlike andorra, which was top-heavy with its standouts, swim saves its best tricks for the second half of the album, making for an exhilarating about-face after its already impressive start. first example…
  • the ideas at play in “hannibal” could make up a whole album in and of themselves, reminding me more than a little of ellen allien’s BPitch work. but best of all…
  • closer and album highlight “jamelia” is so achingly beautiful in its simplicity, it might take a few listens for you to notice (or care) that the vocals are contributed by born ruffians’ luke lalonde, who unsurprisingly fares better here than with his own group’s material.

at another economical nine songs in 43 minutes, caribou has produced another all killer/no filler stunner with swim that will leave listeners wanting more. all i wanted to after taking this swim was dive back in again and let the songs envelope and refresh me anew. someone get me a towel.

swim is out apr. 20 via merge.


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