Album Anatomy: Suddenly - Caribou

Chance Raine analyses the latest album from Caribou

Chance Raine
28th March 2020

Singer, song writer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Snaith produces his fifth commercial album under the name Caribou. The album is compact with 12 songs and 43 minutes in length. Unlike previous albums, there are hip-hop inspired songs besides his typical indietronica style making for a more versatile album though they sadly come together in a rather bland way.

The opening song ‘Sister’ is certainly rather unsettling giving an almost alien vibe as Daniel sings in a fragile, boyish way over howling synthesizing layers. The lyrics suggest the topic for the album that being family, change and love all together being a suitable opening. ‘You and I’ is livelier with a crisp drumbeat, Snaith’s danceable style showing. The vocals again are rather fragile though suits the theme of the music to an extent. There is use of sampling between verses giving an interesting twist to the song also skillfully applied without disrupting the flow of the song. ‘Sunny’s Time’ further makes use of sampling of piano and vocals used over synthesizers. The vocals used in this song are almost rapped and rather bold and abrupt certainly shattering the smooth opening piano sample. There's a clash of ideas in this track which dwindle which is unfortunate as I feel with more time these ideas could be explored to a greater extent.

‘New Jade’ once again draws on hip-hop ideas with sample vocals and a lively drumbeat. Snaith’s voice however is underwhelming and almost monotonous in comparison to the sample vocals as well as the sparkly synthesizer arpeggios. ‘Home’ in my opinion is one of the favorable tracks on the album with another lively drumbeat with groovy guitar samples as well as a soulful vocal sample ‘Baby I’m home, I’m home, I’m home’. Snaith’s voice is lonely to reasonable effect though similarly to the previous songs mentioned I found that they were overshadowed by samples used. Snaith returns to his comfort zone with ‘Lime’, a house-funk fusion song with jazzy guitar passages and embellishments incorporated. Despite being his comfort zone however, I feel this song sounds over- processed as if Snaith has attempted to force samples together that just do not work. Towards the end of the song it is abruptly thrown off-course into deep and low-volume vocal chanting. This is certainly one of the weaker songs on the album and is difficult to understand and listen to.

‘Never Come Back’ contrasts with the previous song returning to a dance theme with another lively drumbeat besides soft vocals and piano. The texture slowly thickens with more use of percussion and synthesizers until fading out. A rather baffling ‘Filtered Grand Piano’ emerges after this song. Just 53 seconds in length I question the purpose on the tune as it does not contribute anything. ‘Like I Loved You’ is typical of Snaith’s indietronica style displaying sadness the lyrics referring to a past lover and whether their current lover amounts to them. The music itself is uneventful with a dry beat all this amounting to a simple, direct song. ‘Magpie’ is perhaps Beatles inspired (referring to ‘Blackbird’) and the vocals do resemble some of their work. Snaith’s intermit voice is backed by synthesizers and is suitable to the mood of the song and unlike on previous songs on the album is not overshadowed or at least contrasted with stronger voices on sample vocals. Despite having little development, ‘Ravi’ has a strong, danceable beat with good chord progressions. It certainly does the dance style justice and finishes with an elated ending. I would label this a feel-good song which is perhaps due to the lack of Snaith’s naturally somber vocals.

The last song on the album ‘Cloud Song’ despite having interesting ideas merged well does drag out at 6 minutes 51 seconds, not enough going on to give that time justice. The ending is also anticlimactic a descending scale being used. Overall, the album brings together some interesting ideas that are often not executed appropriately. Furthermore, the melodies and songs themselves are rather forgettable and Snaith’s voice is overshadowed by samples and often conflicts with the music. I would give this and album a 6 out of 10 and it will not be remaining on my Spotify albums.

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