Dan Snaith’s latest album as Caribou, Our Love, is a warm, revitalizing and unclassifiable collection of songs.
Overall, Snaith is sticking closer to the dance floor-ready rhythms that he unleashed on 2010’s Swim and through his side project Daphni. What sets Our Love apart is that Snaith refuses to fall into the dance music arms race to see who can create the coolest, slickest neo-soul or biggest, most aggressive drop.
Snaith foregoes these common elements in favor of something less isolating. Throughout Our Love, songs build simply until they reach the expected precipice. Instead of dropping listeners off a cliff, Snaith propels them higher. It’s like inhaling all the way and then discovering your lungs have room for more air, expanding to new dimensions.
This feeling fits well with Snaith’s maturing perspective on love. “Can’t Do Without You” is the exemplar. On its own, most people would recognize the title as a desperate form of love or a neediness that teeters on the edge of romantic and unattractive. In the hands of Caribou, it’s a statement of fact and the “you” in the title is left ambiguous. They are the words of a man accepting his own needs and recognizing that he can’t do it all on his own. It feels anything but desperate.
The first four songs of Our Love are as strong of a sequence as Snaith has ever put together. His immaculate production and compositional cleverness work in support of his emotions to create dance music that feels best experienced with close friends. This isn’t headphone music and it’s not rage all night music either. It sits in between at the house party with all of the people you hold most dear in this world.
The last half of the album is separated by palate cleansers “Dive” and “Second Chance” — which is as close to pop as Caribou comes with Jessy Lanza on vocals — and it begins to move back towards Snaith’s habit of clever, complex rhythms particularly on the hypnotic “Mars.” Fortunately, it’s a short detour as “Your Love Will Set You Free” brings the listener back to the mood of side A to close the album.
This album feels like the culmination of a lifetime of work, incredible talent and emotional epiphany. Our Love sounds like something nobody else could make and it’s Snaith’s most enjoyable record.
Caribou will play with Jessy Lanza at the Cat's Cradle on November 16. Tickets are $18 in advance.