Having released one of the best house tracks of 2019 – Sizzling, under the Daphni alias – Dan Snaith is back as Caribou for a record of lush sounds, inventive songwriting and his trademark muted but soulful vocals.
Sister opens the record with a suite of sounds: first a glowing, neon timbre, then overlapping guitar loops, then warm synth plucks, as the vocal underneath remains unfazed by these transitions (“sister, I promise you I’m changing / you’ve heard broken promises, I know / if you want to change it you must break it / rip it up and something new will grow”). It’s a neat microcosm of Snaith’s sound, appearing organic and laidback while being full of sonic nuance.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of listening to Caribou is the way he plays with genre and style. There is a palpable sense that he has learnt all the rules in order to discard them, rearranging disparate sounds to fit his own palette. How else to define the R&B-esque beats of Like I Loved You, a guitar lick that feels warm yet uncannily brisk, pitch-shifted for a woozy, disorientating effect? Or the wacky beat switches of You And I that take the song from a driving ’80s sound to psychedelic trap in one second flat?
The most straightforward track on Suddenly is Never Come Back, with its piano stabs and 4×4 drums underpinning a repetitive vocal sample – think a club remix of Can’t Do Without You and you’re almost there. Ravi pursues a similar vibe but instead goes for a euphoric explosion in its second section, its simple chord sequence building to an irresistible climax.
Suddenly finds Snaith in his element, writing beautifully endearing tunes and setting them to multi-layered production in a way only he can, and the results are spectacular.