Caribou's Swim does everything but sink

Caribou’s (Dan Snaith’s) most recent project/record, Swim, to nick words from the title, is, well, “swimmy.” The vocals seem to be sung inside an open-clamshell discotheque on the ocean floor, accompanied, at times, by a woodwind orchestra. His ability to somehow combine organic sounds with analog and metronomic digitalism results in one beaut of a record. Art-rock, New Order Movement-era stripped down beats and gentle vocals makes Swim an album worth revisiting time and time again. Fantastic but not catchy, this isn’t a bad thing…

As far as singular tracks are concerned, I will initially bypass the obvious “Odessa” and skip to “Bowls,” the most surprising song on the record. Sans vocals, the singing bowl instrumentation combined with harp and antiquated housey/bassy beats are the selling point not only on this track but, single-handedly, the record as a whole. Snaith has a way of layering incongruent sounds into one palatable entity. It’s one of those tracks that reveal additional, once-hidden sounds every time it is listened to (through headphones, please).

The video for “Odessa” (the medium in which the public heard the single initially), is, to be honest, tough to get around and not think about when listening to the audio alone. In the particular case of “Odessa”, the bloodied-face of the woman in the video (the protagonist – Odessa, one could assume?) is hard to shake, mostly because of her resemblance to Kristen Stewart. Though the song is pretty animalistic with simian-like howling, quiet vocals and disco guitar, ”Odessa” is the weakest track on the record. Shame as this might be the only bit non-Caribou fan listeners hear/watch before they avoid investing in the album as a whole.

From house music to post-rock, regardless of the album or artist, if the score (and the planets) are aligned perfectly, many music aficionados are blessed with a musical moment; a climactic moment on a record when the bottom drops out of a song and bliss ensues; the moment when the listener is enveloped by a galaxy of sound not exemplified by any other track. The closing song, “Jamelia,” breaks Snaith’s smooth vocals up with small blasts of synthesized adrenaline and makes the listener wring their hands impatiently, until finally, what’s been anticipated but not guaranteed, happens: the climactic moment when Swim loudly opens up and swallows the listener for precisely the right amount of time until it pulls back and spits them out. The perfect ending.

Caribou – “Odessa” [MP3]

Caribou – “Jamelia” [MP3]

Purchase Swim

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