Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Caribou – Swim
29 April 2010, 23:14 Written by Erik Thompson
When an artist declares that their goal for an album is "to create dance music that sounds like it's made out of water," you know that reviewing such a fluid, mellifluous work is bound to be a bit of a challenge. With Swim, Dan Snaith (aka Caribou) has achieved his complex objective, crafting a fashionably fluent record that is at once captivating and complex, while continuing his series of highly listenable albums that shift styles seamlessly, never failing to create an ethereal mood. His work reflects a careful attention to detail and the calculated precision that befits someone with a Ph.D. in mathematics, but his songs have an infectious bounce and boundless spirit that belies his scholarly leanings, instead giving students everywhere an excuse to throw away their books and dance the night away at the club instead. And Swim is no exception, filled to the point of bursting with hypnotizing beats and mesmerizing melodies, all while maintaining the subtle grandeur that has been at the heart of Caribou's (as well as Snaith's erstwhile outfit, Manitoba) consistently inventive output.The record starts off as if it's a continuation of a conversation that Snaith started on 2007's Polaris Prize-winning Andorra, albeit one using an entirely different language. The lift-off-like beginning of 'Odessa' creates an unbroken, perpetual sense to the record, as if you can dive in anywhere and the atmosphere and flavor of the listening experience will be unchanged. Starts and stops are ultimately unimportant, it is the sounds and rhythms that are essential, which reinforces Snaith's desire for the album to have a viscous, variable quality. Lyrically, if you choose to dig that deep, Swim proves to be a dark record, full of tales of loss and longing, but musically the songs cavort with an ease that only adds to their infectious nature.'Sun' could be the song you turn to after a night filled with partying, while simultaneously being the first song you hear when you step in the club; it's easily transferable to suit any experience, as is the entirety of this record. It's a testament to not only Snaith's innumerable talents, but also his unfailing ear for rousing tempos that simply pulse with life. 'Kaili' sounds like the 'Born Slippy' for the less aggressive backpack set, while 'Bowls' could be the soundtrack to the first yoga class conducted in space. The album is an immediately engaging listen, but spend some time within the carefully constructed cadences and you're bound to be transported. This is headier stuff than most dancefloor fillers, but that inherent acuity is what not only separates Swim from much of its electronic contemporaries, but also closely aligns the album with stellar recent releases by Four Tet and Lindstrøm in that it can get you to think as much as it can move you to dance.The record hits a bit of somber dull-patch towards the end, before the sublime closer 'Jamelia' closes things down in grand fashion with the help of Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde on vocals. Over a sprightly keyboard and a slowly cascading steel drum-like rhythm, the song soars to a triumphant finish that ends the album on a massive high. Swim is the sound of Dan Snaith's struggle to create a perfect sounding album without it appearing to be that studied; with the fluid results seeming to come together effortlessly, even though every sound has been poured over thousands of times. It's a record that could easily augment either your restless Saturday evening or your tranquil Sunday morning, but it conceivably might just be playing while one gradually becomes the other, with the mysteries of the nighttime slowly giving way to the realities of the day.RECOMMENDED
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