It has been a full 6 years since the last full length release from Caribou (Daniel Snaith). That is not for lack of activity in the interim however where we have seen a full length album from his alter-ego Daphni along a range of remixes and individual tracks. The Caribou moniker has remained radio silent however for just that little bit too long that makes you wonder if he will ever return under that guise. Worry not, friends. The gestation time has paid dividends.
Caribou is an ambitious artist in terms of sonic experimentation. He has said in interviews he created hundreds and hundreds of sonic ideas that either fed into the project or got put to the side. This is a normal process for him and he acknowledged this project took a little longer than anticipated but was not concerned. The patience has paid off here in swathes.
His most personal record by far as it deals with goings on in his private life to the point where he was uncertain of releasing certain tracks, fearful of what the subject may think of it. However, as with all great art, the audience can apply their own meaning to the record and the more personal the story being told, the more it connects.
Suddenly hits a level balance between the familiar and pushing boundaries, between experimentation and expected, and between dance and chill. My Love, his previous record was an evolution from his previous records built on the solid foundation laid by Swim. Suddenly is a refinement of all before it and pushing the boundaries just enough to keep it exciting. If this is where Caribou remains for all future releases, I’m on board.
Sister is a low-key and tender opening to the record. A moment that is reflected and matched in the first half of Cloud Song – the album closer. The two bookend the project nicely with quiet and reflective moments to bring us in and play us out. I can’t say they are my favourite tracks on here by any measure but I can see the intent and it creates a complete listening experience for what comes between them
You & I, which follows, kicks us into full Caribou sound we are looking for and Sunny’s Time follows to provide the most robust sonic challenge on the record. Depending on your taste it can either make you feel a bit sick or excite and intrigue you with its pitch bent piano and choppy, sway infused rap vocal meaning it takes a while to adjust and enjoy it atop the steady bed of brass and bass. We are kindly landed back on a level footing with New Jade though where Snaith’s vocal plays counter to the breakbeat bed. I’m sure this must have made the short list for singles.
Home – the lead single for this era – offers a soulful and vintage feel that, no matter where you happen to be listening to it, invokes a sense of calm, belonging and home. Much needed in these Covid infused days where that is exactly where we are spending a lot of our time. Lime creates a half time interlude with woozy synth layers adding further comfort for the most part until its slightly out of place ending of choral singing and a sharp ending that is so sudden as to make it seem poorly mastered.
Never Come Back is Caribou in full dance music swing though and quickly distracts from that odd moment. Later in the record Ravi takes us to a full blown rave and while it was a grower initially, it has become more and more a firm favourite with each listen.
Like I Loved You takes the Scotch Snap we see in basically all modern hip hop and pop music these days (See Juice by Lizzo for another example) and applies it to a yearning love song. I have Adam Neely of YouTube fame to thank for pointing out this vocal technique, and now you know, you won’t be able to un-hear it in many of your favourite songs either. You’re welcome
Altogether a comforting yet exhilarating record – quite the feat to pull off – and well worth the lengthy wait. Now we just have to wait to experience the songs in a concert venue or field somewhere. Well, patience is a virtue – much like this album. Oh, and the now-apparent irony of its title only deepens with time and that just adds to the enjoyment.
Highlights: You & I, Home, Never Come Back, Ravi