Your favourite electronica producer found the whammy bar for the first time.
Canadian composer Caribou (Dan Snaith) has been entertaining us for years with his fascinating electronica. Each album takes a different twist on things and this time its pitch bending. For me ‘Suddenly’ completes a trilogy of albums that started with ‘Swim’, moved into the dancier side with ‘Our Love’ and now the more chilled ‘Suddenly’ rounds off the set.
I say pitch bend is the toy of the day because so many tracks feature pitch shifts and twisted sounds. Opener acoustic piece ‘Sister’ has tape chew on the acoustic guitar. The gentle celestial electric piano and soft bass keep you calm as the track warps. On the chilled dance number ‘You and I’ chews up the vocals instead as deep drums and mildly warped synths smash out a trip-hop anthem. The whole tape chew thing isn’t new to Caribou nor electronica but I’ve certainly never heard it used so prominently in his work.
This continues with the urban ‘Sunny’s Theme’ with rewound piano riffs laying the path for vocoder raps. The upbeat and uptempo ‘New Jade’ borrows from 90’s dance anthems in that way it chops vocal samples. It also uses new age instrumentation to create a mirage of sound to try to evade direct note playing. The way the frequency of the track plays out makes the entire track shimmer like a ray of sunshine.
The second half of the album calls back to the early works of Caribou where his music was more psyche-electronica. This time around though I feel like the entire production is sieved through the ‘Swim’ synth samples. Tracks like ‘Magpie’ could have been from the 60s with ‘Home’ sampling Motown evoking vintage classics and adding hippy acoustic guitars on them. Even here, pitch and tempo shifts hide in the transitions and outros.
There are some utter classics though. Every album features an absolute club belter and ‘Never Come Back’ is that one for ‘Suddenly’. It is noticeably clean and smooth and this is the characteristic of all the heavier bops on the album like ‘Ravi’ and ‘Lime’. ‘Like I Love You’ merges both sides of Caribou together for a chilled out pop classic. The closing track ‘Cloud Song’ also heavily reminded me of the Fez soundtrack from Disasterpeace. Dan’s vocals are beautiful here as it bleeps and bubbles around you to its slumbering rest.
Caribou has created another versatile and fun album that moves between the acoustic and the electronic with ease. The way how the pitch bends and rewinds transition riffs and sections together is inspired and quirky without feels too tacky. It does feel like it’s repeating a bit of old ground but when he does it so well, I really don’t mind. Caribou is a master of his craft.
Recommended track: Never Come Back
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