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REVIEW: Caribou – Swim


You would think winning the prestigious Canadian Polaris Prize in 2008 might have caused a certain performance anxiety in bedroom composer Dan Snaith—known to his fans as Caribou. Following up a glistening and critically-acclaimed album like 2007’s Andorra stands as no easy feat.

And yet, with a kaleidoscopic collection of distorted electro-drums, chubby horn lines and spacey atmospherics, Swim seems to extend beyond his previous achievements, into triumphant and unexpected territory. Snaith set out to make a dance record that sounds like it’s made of water. The resulting nine songs are predictably abstract, yet simultaneously rife with extremely danceable hooks.

Recorded somewhere between Wales and Junior Boy Jeremy Greenspan’s Hamilton Ontario studio, the album features several stand-out moments. The last song “Jamelia” is one such gem, including expert guest vocals from Born Ruffians’ Luke Lalonde, and the curious sound of Jamacian chimes scattered across an aquatic centre floor. The track builds to an ecstatic climax and once again returns to its muted backbeat.

While there are less overtly psychedelic effects on this record, each track brings a truly unique sonic experience. “Lalibela” offers two and a half minutes of subdued droning cadences reminiscent of an Aphex Twin effort, while minimal vocals on “Sun” and “Bowls” allow a tinge of ravey madness to shine though. “Kaili” is held together by an echoey house beat adorned with fluttering flute trills, with hints of dub buzzing in the background.

Such tactile and dynamic layers make Swim quite an inviting listen.

Published April 2010.

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