Output from Dan Snaith is coveted like gleaming gold dust; while we’ve recently-ish had noise from the London-based, Ontario-born musician in the form of Daphni, Snaith’s house-ier alter-ego, it’s been an arduous slog through the past four years sans Caribou.
Despite his notorious brush with academia – in the form of a PhD in mathematics from Imperial College London – Snaith's returned to his most famous sonic moniker. The Polaris longlister, shortlister and winner strutted back into our lives over the summer with “Can't Do Without You”, the lead single from Our Love, his seventh LP (number four as Caribou).
“Can't Do Without You” is an anthem in the purest sense. Structurally, it borrows a lot from post-rock and six-hour DJ sets; it starts life airy and unencumbered, with simple percussion and gauzy vox that sound like whispering through patchouli smoke. As Snaith serpentines towards the end point, it fattens up, engorged on myriad sonic morsels injected along the journey. It grows, accelerates and intensifies until a catastrophic breaking point is reached, and Snaith, track 'n' all, erupts in flurry of shimmering beats and majestic melody. Some artists opt for subtlety; Caribou plumps for grandiose statements of euphoria.
It's a theme tangible throughout Our Love. In comparison to its predecessor Swim, this is a marvellously uplifting record. In our recent interview with Snaith, he explained the energy that's gone into his new LP: “I was thinking a lot about how my life has changed for the better with all the people I'd met because of Swim, about the fact that I'm in my mid-thirties now, with a daughter, and I was trying to just capture all of the love in my life right now. Not just romantically, with my wife, but with my family, my friends, and then my love of music, the love I feel when I talk to people who like my music, and the love that must exist in those crowds, between the people who are there for the same reason but seem to come from different demographics...”
This passionate, unrequited love for life is brazen during Our Love. It's an emphatic 42 minutes of contentment, of genuine happiness that is so rare within music. There's no thinly-veiled chagrin, nor snark-laced smirks. It's an unconditional positivity that, frankly, we could all use in the modern dark days. Despite bombs raining, terror reigning and death galore, despite extinction and dismay, pestilence and war and poverty and turmoil, Caribou presents a beacon of respite. It's not inherently hopeful – only because you've reached your destination. It's zen. It's not dismissive of worldly woe, but it is resolutely looking on the bright side. “So what the global economy has collapsed,” it says. “At least you still have your friends. Your family.”
Love is the overriding impetus, but it's in no way ham-fisted, tacky Meat Loaf grunts, nor the tweenage dross of boyf <3 girlf. It's closer to the '60s Biblical Agape love; the flowers in gun barrel love. Whether it's the calm smile of “All I Ever Need”, the fluffy dreamscapes of “Julia Brightly” or “Dive”'s cardinal optimism, Our Love rises above. Snaith takes stock of life's vital parts, eschewing the anxiety of social constructions and apocalyptic harbingers.
Between the Gustav Holst nods on “Mars” or “Silver” in its brief wavering pessimism, Snaith has crafted a dance album like no other. Almost any track on Our Love would be like an electromagnet on the dancefloor, but there's a strong sense that it's not just for those environments. There's scope for this to be, despite all its outward free-love glory, an incredible intimate, personal affair.
Ultimately, this multi-faceted anthology will be what you need it to be in a time any chance time of need. It is uplifting, and it is wholly life-affirming. If you need Caribou to hoist you out the blue-tinged doldrums, he's here. If you just want a brief, electric moment of blood-pulse, adrenaline-hackle energy to feel alive, he's here. If you want to dance your fucking legs off, he's still here.
Caribou demonstrates on Our Love, at least in some way, that he will always be there.