Thomas Neukum

Caribou ‘Suddenly’

Caribou 'Suddenly'
The excellent seventh studio album from Canadian Dan Snaith proves once more that he is operating at a level unlike most. Caribou's latest is perhaps his finest, and most danceable, in many years
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Dan Snaith appears to have found clarity. 2014 saw the Canadian releasing his seventh studio album, ‘Our Love’, to adoration. His fourth record under his most recognisable moniker Caribou, ‘Our Love’ was a remarkably composed and reminiscent album. Now both a father and acclaimed producer, Snaith was keen to reciprocate the love he was receiving.

In the years that followed, Caribou took a backseat as Snaith DJ’d across the globe. His most recent work could be found through Daphni – his dancefloor-skewered pseudonym. 2017’s ‘Joli Mai’ record and last year’s ‘Sizzling EP’ were necessary creative excursions. Daphni makes way for Snaith’s sentimental, soft side to flourish with Caribou. And with ‘Suddenly’, Snaith has seemingly, and seamlessly, bridged his two most beloved aliases for his latest superb dance album.

It would be an unconvincing remark to say Caribou is content after hearing ‘You and I’. The first direct track on the album (opener ‘Sister’ is a dreamy, flimsy number) is one of the most poppy Caribou songs in some time. With synth chords that steadily build atop drums that couldn’t sound more alive, ‘You and I’ is an oddly sinister number. After it drops the first time, you’d be mistaken for thinking the song could be going anywhere. As it finds its way back on track, it seems as though Caribou has regained control. The danceable yet reflective track is ambitious, punchy and experienced. The last ninety seconds are among Caribou’s finest, and the song stands firmly as a career highlight.

For the many that swooned at Caribou’s pleasant escapism of ‘Our Love’, there is still plenty to cherish here. ‘Lime’ and ‘Magpie are sweet enough to continue Caribou’s simpler times. The former is fuelled by a skittish drum and pinchy synth combo, only for it to go nowhere. A fun toe-tapper, it is intriguing for a brief moment, but not quite stellar to hold onto. ‘Magpie’ is comparatively skeletal; its inclusion in the album’s home stretch successfully molds the song as a pleasant, if slightly meandering, tune to drift off to.

‘New Jade’ finds Caribou teetering on the brink yet again. Melodic and thrilling, it is an early album highlight. Sub-four minutes and breathless, it is kinetic while extremely anxious. The song’s incorporation of live drums only enhance the intensity that is stacked by the chopped up vocals. If you needed proof that Dan Snaith is still keen to explore sounds, look no further. Harp and guitars battle as the atmospheric instrumental sections craft something all too engaging.

In fact, ‘Suddenly’ certainly carries the impression of an Album. With ‘Sister’, the forgettable but sweet opener makes for a compelling introduction to the record. The intricacy gives way to a thick wall of restraint that prevents the song from blossoming to anything more than a mood-setter. Meanwhile if the bizarrely brief ‘Filtered Grand Piano’ has any purpose, it is to encourage you, the listener, to consider this record as a serious album. And what is more, it does a pretty damn good job at it.

While Caribou has laced ‘Suddenly’ with interludes and simple unaffecting tunes, as is omnipresent, the best moments here are Caribou’s hits. ‘Like I Loved You’ is an instantaneous smash. What could easily be a JoJo song (in a very good sense), this is Caribou’s attempt to gain chart success in the 2000s. The dejected, desperate chorus is oddly tragic: “Does he love you like I used to do?”, he begs. Snaith’s signature falsetto only intensifies the chorus’ upsetting pleas. Caribou’s quality and sincerity makes this song competent enough to hold up – if it were any less convincing, this would simply be embarrassing.

Dan Snaith still finds time, however, to better himself yet again. From his IDM debut under Manitoba almost two decades ago, to his most recent work under Daphni, Snaith evidently adores the floor. ‘Ravi’ is his latest, utterly splendid, attempt at providing the good times to the party. It is absolutely huge: 280 seconds of infectious, dance-worthy layers. One of his Caribou’s finest songs, it soundtracks a tremendous sunset late in the day. With the chopped up female vocals being vague enough for anyone to sing along to, before Snaith interjects with “It’s always better when I’m with you”; this is a determined summer anthem. You will be hearing this a lot this summer.

While ‘Suddenly’ might lack the consistent tone of ‘Our Love’, Caribou delivers yet again with a dance album to savour. There is more than enough here to dance to, to lose yourself in, to chronicle your parties. Dan Snaith still has plenty of life left in his aliases and if ‘Suddenly’ says anything, it is that we should enjoy it while we can.

‘Suddenly’ by Caribou is out now on City Slang