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Caribou Stay Afloat Print E-mail
Written by MAX BLAU   
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Dan Snaith is a man of many talents—a mathematical scholar, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. Despite his notable flair for creating music, the Caribou mastermind unexpectedly caught critics and fans by surprise in 2007 with Andorra--a fantastic record that derived its greatness in part from its amiable and catchy 60’s pop aesthetic. After winning the Polaris Music Prize, Snaith could have easily continued to pursue the formula, and Caribou fans would have been ecstatic to hear what could have easily been ‘Andorra, Part 2’. Instead, however, Snaith opted to move away and explore other sounds.
Caribou


"Swim"
(Merge)
Released April 20, 2010

As a result, Swim is not Andorra by any means. His desire to refuse on his laurels is admirable, and the sign of an artist comfortable in his own shoes. Unlike that of its predecessor, Swim is a spacious IDM-centered album, one that at its best moments reaches the greatness of Andorra. The opener “Odessa” kicks off the record with its smart, tight and captivating pop grooves that remain on par with the best tracks of Snaith’s career. Between the synth-heavy dashes of “Kaili” and the Hot Chip-meets-Thom Yorke hybrid on “Hannibal,” Swim paints a compelling, cerebral work—one that impresses through its precisely placed sonic details. While Caribou’s approach to dance pop can be refreshingly original due to Snaith’s production, it also at times leads to what can become a mundane repetition, an occurrence happening a little too much at times over the course of Swim.

In the end, Swim does not match its Polaris-winning precursor, but manages to stay afloat throughout Snaith’s exploring endeavors. Although the album occasionally gets lost in its own sounds and subsequently feels bland at times, Swim’s shining moments rank among Caribou’s best work. So even with its notable flaws, Caribou’s valiant effort in search of new innovation and reinvention deserves significant attention, let alone be applauded for approaching the creative process the right way.

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