20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Caribou’s Swim by dana20watts
April 20, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

20 Watts Reviews Caribou's Swim

PREVIEW: VISIT Caribou’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Daniel Victor Snaith’s ninth release as Caribou is an unpredictable synthesis of electronic and tribal sounds. Although Swim is a short album of just nine songs, the long tracks contain stories of Caribou’s struggle with divorce, old age and loneliness. While the lyrics are vague, they offer an in-depth look at Snaith’s creative process. The use of unexpected instruments complements the mix.

Swim shows that Snaith completely defies any musical self-restraint he may have had in the past. The album starts off with “Odessa,” a funky yet mystical calamity of soft lyrics that describe a strong, independent “alpha woman.” The track combines a jungle sound with an electronic breakdown, setting a precedent for the unusual style combinations that last for Swim’s entire duration. The album shows off more curious rhythmic tendencies on  “Bowls,” with a tune  reminiscent of African tribal music. Tibetan singing bowls and a prominent bass line fortify the track’s sound.

“Hannibal” is perhaps the strongest example of the metamorphosis Caribou has chosen to undergo on Swim. Where the track starts off with a sense of joy unbecoming to the titular serial killer, its ending bears a moodily sonic resemblance to the Peter and the Wolf recessional. “Hannibal” is an erratic battle between a cheery melody and an abrasive symphony that is Odyssean in its nature. The contrast suggests that Snaith may still be torn between his musical identities.

Swim ends with Caribou questioning his purpose on earth with “Jamelia,” a track that features Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians. While the latter end of the Snaith’s latest album seems like musical chaos, Swim has a greater sense of coherence than Caribou’s last two albums—Andorra and Up in Flames. This album shows Snaith’s skill in transcending his formerly boisterous style, exploring moods and tones for other seasons besides Spring.

-Dana Rose Falcone

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