Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
Dan Snaith has described his seventh album as both “mind-numbingly simple” and “something for everybody to listen to”. These are phrases almost guaranteed to give his fanbase pause: over the course of his career – first under the name Manitoba, then as Caribou – Snaith has never previously given the impression of being terribly interested in mass appeal. An expat Canadian, he started out making complex laptop electronica that variously referenced British psychedelia, bedsit singer-songwriters, the output of Warp records, krautrock and shoegazing indie.
Dan Snaith is on something of a roll. In the seven years since second Caribou album Andorra scooped the Polaris Music Prize, he’s garnered gushing critical acclaim on two separate occasions. His Swim LP, released in 2010, seemed to define an entire summer and set the standard in electro-psychedelia; 2012’s Jiaolong – a homebrewed album attributed to his alternative moniker Daphni – was similarly well received, its palette of joyous, rootsy house sounds at odds with that year’s “EDM barfsplosion”.
Dan Snaith spent the first decade of his career attacking a wide range of genres with the intensity of an autodidact and the cerebral coolness of an academic. Back when he was still recording as Manitoba without fear of legal challenges from disgruntled punk veterans, he dissembled the IDM of the late 1990s and early ‘00s on debut Start Breaking My Heart before moving on to kaleidoscopic, colorful psychedelia on Up in Flames. From there, it was on to chugging krautrock and rich, melancholy ‘60s pop on The Milk of Human Kindness and Andorra, respectively; the 2010 LP Swim, cobbled together from leftover DJ set material and inspired by the sounds of deep house and contemporary club music, grew his fan base further.
Review Summary: A madness most discreet.Dan Snaith’s love is true to its form. As Caribou, the Canadian ex-pat has been haunting the edges of electronic music for nearly a decade and a half, splicing neo-psychedelic flourishes with krautrock grooves and folk melodies, glitchy breakbeats with cerebral ambient. Cerebral, of course, almost being a requirement in any description of Snaith, who has an advanced doctorate in mathematics and has managed to make a living out of pursuing a unique path through laptop electronica and, with 2010’s Swim, infiltrating broader, more mainstream circles.
Dan Snaith’s work under the name Caribou has been some of the most intriguing and enjoyable dance music of the last 10 years. Caribou’s previous record, 2010’s Swim, was one of those compulsively listenable albums that you almost feel guilty about over playing. But I never did get tired of Swim, and repeated listening only made me curious about what Snaith would follow it up with.
It might seem like Dan Snaith has been distractedly bouncing between genres with each Caribou album, dipping his toes into electronic pop, psych rock, free jazz and dance music without committing. However, a closer listen suggests that he's expanding his artistic toolbox with every recording, each tangent building on the last experiment. This is especially true of Our Love, a natural progression from the delicately beautiful and strangely funky shoegazer dance pop of his last album, Swim.
Electronic artist Dan Snaith, working as Caribou, produced brilliantly abstract albums for more than a decade, moving from the glitchy weirdness of his 2001 debut, Start Breaking My Heart, into more delicate mergers of organic sounds and electronic production, with his 2007 standout album Andorra and its more psychedelic follow-up Swim in 2010. The move toward the dancefloor that was hinted at on Swim is brought into full focus on sixth full-length Our Love, a collection of ten powerful grooves that still manage a bit of Snaith's trademark psychedelic production. The underwater-sounding loop of electric piano and slowed-down vocals that begins album opener "Can't Do Without You" lingers for a while in a soft, welcoming way, setting the tone for a good minute and a half before the song's beat drops, offering the most good-natured take on a house track imaginable.
On his fourth album as Caribou, Dan Snaith continues the pleasurable drift into dance music that picked up on his 2010 album Swim (which boosted his popularity as a live act) and was quickened by subsequent releases under his Daphni alias. Our Love is more stripped back than Swim – he’s taken a lesson in minimalism from fellow Canadian Jessy Lanza, who guests on Second Chance – and clearer in its floor-filling aims. Snaith knows the power of a careful build-up and a well-timed drop.
Lyrically, Dan Snaith (aka Caribou) has tended to cut a bit of a sad figure, whose uplifting melodies often mask melancholic laments of heartbreak and spurned love. With the likes of ‘She’s the One’ (“Call her effete/call her shallow and insincere/’cause you’ll never see how perfect she could be/then she’s gone… she’s the one”) from 2007’s Andorra or ‘Jamelia’ (“If I can’t be the man/tell me what I am/tell me what I’m here for”), from 2010’s acclaimed Swim, Snaith’s body of work has always been permeated by tales of disintegrating relationships, rejection and loss. So when ‘Can’t Do Without You’ suddenly appeared in June of this year (in time to stake its claim for summer anthem of '14), it seemed like a sea change of sorts for he-of-the-permanent-broken-heart.
Building upon a similar stylistic palette to the acclaimed Swim album, on Our Love Caribou (aka Canadian ex-pat Dan Snaith) delves even deeper into emotional and nostalgic territory. Drawing more on classic house and early '80s R&B and boogie in place of Swim's alt-disco Arthur Russell-isms, or Andorra's psych-rock, it seems as if Snaith is subconsciously skipping forward a half-decade in references with each consecutive Caribou release. Despite the album's often personal and melancholic air on broodier tracks such as "Silver" and "Dive," Our Love is also loaded with fun, accessible dance numbers.
The hubbub around masterful producer Dan Snaith is that he’s a qualified mathematician. Increasingly, as his stock’s risen and his albums have become more complex but unifying works, this information nugget’s acted as more than a tagalong. Conclusions are drawn that because Snaith’s toppled calculus, he’s just as capable of applying this theory to complicated production.
By now you’ll doubtless have heard Can’t Do Without You, Dan Snaith’s clarion call for his fourth album under the Caribou moniker. It’s an understated yet hugely considered build of a piece and, thankfully, one that only hints at the warmth and precision on Our Love. Since 2010’s Swim – a far less coherent collection – Snaith has toured the world as both DJ and something approaching a jazz musician, both under solo guises and in bands.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Is there some kind of calculus behind Caribou's consistently clean and clinical electronica, and his ability to effortlessly shape-shift from one style to another live and on record? The work of Ontario-born, London-based artist and doctor of mathematics Dan Snaith is by no means mechanical, automated or cold. His six albums to date - three as Caribou and three under the monikers of Manitoba and Daphni - are deliberate, thoughtful and sophisticated, each a key point in the development of IDM in the last ten years and Snaith's progress as a producer of genuinely cutting-edge music.
With the bold title Our Love and the bold goal to create “something for everybody to listen to,” Dan Snaith, aka Caribou, has returned from a four-year slumber seemingly ready to don a cape. But as a cerebral musician who keeps his mathematics doctorate in one pocket and a Lego from his three-year-old daughter in the other, Snaith isn’t trying to explain the complexities of love. He’s not even feigning authority over love’s dictionary.
As early as “Twins,” a track off 2003’s Up in Flames, Caribou hinted at the prospect of pristine pop music. Of course, about a decade back, he was recording as Manitoba. But there surely was an overriding eclecticism that assured listeners of a future that could be anything from synthetic dancehall hits to peaceful moments fit for supine wonderment.
Under various aliases, Canada's Dan Snaith has charted new frontiers of psychedelic pop for more than a decade, never settling for lazy stoner drones or skimping on melodic-rhythmic drama. He dived fully into EDM on 2012's Jiaolong, his first set as Daphni; now, on the seventh LP by his main project, he turns his ear toward modern soul. Snaith savors sumptuous grooves and ornately sexy vocals, but he likes disturbing smooth veneers: The synth riff under the gorgeous chorus to ''Second Chance'' pitches down so radically, you might need Dramamine.
A lot has happened since Dan Snaith released Swim in 2010. Most significantly, the Canadian artist started making dance music as Daphni, which made his budding role in that world official but also painted a line between the "accidental dance" of Caribou and the more purposeful grooves of his Jiaolong label. "Can't Do Without You," the first single from Our Love and this year's undeniable summer anthem, seemed to bring Snaith's alter egos closer together, but most of the new album doesn't strike the same balance.
Caribou's Our Love opens with the chilly repetition of a heavily processed voice, intoning the song's title, “Can't Do Without You,” which could serve as the album's dominant motif. The slogan repeats incessantly throughout the entire track, on its own at first, then in the background as the song stirs to life, the music mounting and gradually taking over the focus. The intent of the track seems clear, distilling the pain of loss down to a mantra, which first becomes the stimulus for creativity, then is overcome by the fruits of that inspiration.
?Output from Dan Snaith is coveted like gleaming gold dust; while we’ve recently-ish had noise from the London-based, Ontario-born musician in the form of Daphni, Snaith’s house-ier alter-ego, it’s been an arduous slog through the past four years sans Caribou. Despite his notorious brush with academia – in the form of a PhD in mathematics from Imperial College London – Snaith's returned to his most famous sonic moniker. The Polaris longlister, shortlister and winner strutted back into our lives over the summer with “Can't Do Without You”, the lead single from Our Love, his seventh LP (number four as Caribou).
In a mini-documentary for the BBC back in 2007, Dan Snaith flicked through his record collection as a way of offering insight on his Polaris Prize-winning second LP Andorra. The essence of his Caribou project, he claimed, lay somewhere between his excitement over Wire’s “perfectly condensed pop song” ‘Outdoor Miner,’ and his love of the way “melodies are falling into one another…growing and falling apart” on a James Holden LP. Somewhere between tight pop and sprawling experimentation; somewhere between control and chaos.
Dan Snaith's multi-monikered career, not to mention the Ph.D. in mathematics and a Polaris prize for Caribou's Andorra album along the way, is the type of thing that almost seems like it shouldn't exist in a time where dreams are deferred and no source of income seems stable enough. Just giving him a gold star for nearly fifteen years steady musical service isn't the answer, yet news of his first album as Caribou in four years almost caused paroxysms of happiness among fans.
opinion bySAMUEL TOLZMANN < @scatlint > There’s no reliable definition and a thousand ways to deviate from it, but does “Can’t Do Without You,” the opening track and first single from Dan Snaith’s third full-length under the Caribou moniker, really qualify as a love song? Even as it builds in intensity it sounds like it’s spiraling down the drain; a line like “I can’t do without you,” delivered in Snaith’s perfect Brian Wilson, is a declaration of affection one time, but repeated almost ninety times it’s something else – a mantra, a memory, a thing not to be relinquished. Artificially thrust down an octave, it almost becomes unintelligible through overuse, a jumble of sounds standing in for a quickly receding idea. Those synths move in a straight line toward a neon climax but the words just go around and around; “do” has the antiquated sense of “function” here, but it’s also ghosted by an ellipsis.
Electronic, dance music producer Dan Snaith has returned with his seventh album Our Love under the moniker for which he is most recognized, Caribou. His last release, 2012’s Jiaolong as Daphni, was a fast-paced, club inspired, mostly instrumental affair. In the vein of what fans expect from Caribou, Snaith has created a more laid back atmosphere with Our Love that still gets you dancing.