As early as “Twins,” a track off 2003’s Up in Flames, Caribou hinted at the prospect of pristine pop music. Of course, about a decade back, he was recording as Manitoba. But there surely was an overriding eclecticism that assured listeners of a future that could be anything from synthetic dancehall hits to peaceful moments fit for supine wonderment.
Caribou—government name, Dan Snaith—possesses a clear affinity for breakbeats and technological advancement, as evidenced on 2010’s Swim, but wheedles it down to the most exacting electronica of his career for Our Love; gone are the Pink Floyd touches that hued his 2007 Andorra all psychedelic. Instead, the producer extends electronic conceits expressed on 2010’s Swim and efforts like “Kaili,” shorning tunes of his singing, opting for samples and snippets, coming off just left of a Michael Jackson opening act from sometime between Off the Wall and Bad.
For those who don’t want to wait out soul singers crooning to get to the beats, though, tracks like “Second Chance” are going to be a disappointment. Melodically, the producer again displays an unwavering ability to use some billowing synth line in its most basic form to create a majestic four minutes of music. The previous track, “Dive,” opens with a series of vocal samples, cut up and stuttered out to the point that it could function as a backdrop to some Rick Ross track. And while a good deal of Our Love—as well as a significant amount of Caribou’s earlier output—owes a debt to hip hop, this bit is perhaps the most overt. Of course, parsing the difference between electronica-inspired production and straight boom-bap is a dicey proposition, but worth considering, despite few hip-hop DJs mustering the gumption to get as weird as Caribou.
Snaith’s latest disc further just distills the guy’s most synthetic interests and occasionally winds up sounding like something playing at a club while Tom Cruise, circa 1988, enters the room. Women would swoon—dudes, too—and he’d sidle up to the bar to order some fluorescent-colored drink. Not everyone will be pleased, but those hooked on Swim will be thrilled.