Caribou - Our Love
Canadian returns with psychedelic electronic dance record
Dan Snaith’s long journey from master of neo-psychedelic pop eclecticism into a full-blown, wee-small-hours, floor-filling electronic dance artist is complete with his fourth album as Caribou. 2010’s inspired Swim backstroked strongly in that direction, while still retaining an organic thread from 2008’s Polaris Prize-winning Andorra. 2012’s heavily samples-based Jiaolong, released under the moniker Daphni, saw the Canadian display all the dancefloor sensibilities you’d expect of a guy who has become renowned in recent years for his epic – sometimes seven-and-a-half hours so – extracurricular DJ sets. Our Love is the first Caribou album to likewise feel more apt to a late-night club setting than necessarily a concert venue.
While that exploratory feel which characterises so much of Caribou’s best music remains strong – Snaith experiments with criss-crossing drum patterns, analogue synth sounds and vocal samples with exactly the fascinated inquisitiveness you’d expect from a doctor of mathematics – there is a sense of him reaching the edge of the map here, and possibly needing to retrace his steps. He variously does acid house, chillwave, drum & bass and comedown psychedelia every bit as entrancingly as you’d expect. But that spectacular, alchemic coaction Snaith can achieve between sometimes contrasting styles and sounds has been better evidenced on previous Caribou records.
The BPM shifts high and low, as Our Love wobbles back and forth somewhere between hands-in-the-air and arms-around-the-toilet-bowl. Where the beatific head-rush of opener ‘I Can’t Do Without You’ and the trippy title track (which features strings arranged by Owen Pallett) are up-tempo bangers, ‘Dive’ slows things down to zonked half-speed with its queasy-sounding portamento bass line. ‘Mars’ sees Snaith find his flute – for he is a fine flautist, among other things – to create a fluttering counterpoint to a rushing tribal beat. The filmic ‘Back Home’ builds gradually towards a spine-tingling drop that’s maybe the record’s standout moment. All are impressive compositions, adding up to an album which strongly demands repeat listening. But how Our Love would benefit from just one song as sure and determined of direction as Swim’s addictive centrepiece ‘Leave House’.