8.5
Music  |  Reviews

Caribou: Swim

[Merge]

April 21, 2010  |  9:00am
Caribou: <em>Swim</em>

Swim to the surface

With his high, ghostly voice and ear for the eerie, Dan Snaith’s dance collages are less the stuff of a Saturday night at the disco and more 4 a.m. in a dark, seedy club. Under his nom-de-plume Caribou, his 2008 Polaris Music Prize-winning Andorra melted a heavy helping of electronica over ‘60s garage rock, but Swim favors the former, with Snaith’s repetitious vocals and synths quivering under the weight of a muffled bass. Snaith abandons both traditional song structures and rock sounds, and the album plays like a 43-minute musical kaleidoscope—bells, horns, handclaps, saxophone and piano all mixing with terse beats. The shadowy electronics flow from the subdued funk of opener “Odessa” through the slow-motion “Lalibela,” leaving “Jamelia” as the lone rave-up. The song builds on blips and bleeps until Snaith howls the album’s only shout-along chorus. Though a few more outbursts could’ve given Swim more punch, it stays afloat—austere, chilling and beautiful.

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