Album Review: Caribou – Suddenly


Anyone wanting to better understand the journey Dan Snaith has been on during this century should probably start with his debut as Manitoba and then end it with his mix for Fabric.

At one end, the nervous tweaks and splenetic, loopy palette of 2001’s Start Breaking My Heart are the work of a producer searching for a post-millennial arc, at the other lies a man throwing down a pseudo-set so hard and precise it could be a diamond.

Suddenly arrives contending for the gong as the misnomer release of the decade so far: it’s been more than five years after all since Snaith brought us Caribou’s Our Love, the record that transformed his public reputation from club-wall hanger to floor stealer. In Daphni, he’s found yet another alias with which to exercise artisan DJ skills, but on this fifth outing under his most prominent banner, traits from each of his various personalities weave alchemically, as if it’s as easy to blend the essences as the music itself.

Suddenly’s opening half is pretty much flawless. The work of a craftsman at the peak of their powers, it showcases a mastery of niche after niche: opener Sister is nervous, sparkling IDM under falsetto; You And I is rubbery, deft synth pop; Sunny’s Time runs footworkishly on a glitched piano loop; New Jade twists a cut and shut R&B sample, while Home is grandstanding, glorious nu-soul, and Lime warped deep house.

Phew. Stepping back, another takeaway is that Snaith’s voice is now a realer deal than ever before, its expanding range neither too glacial nor remote. Also apparent is that these songs lyrically are a long way from being an afterthought, be the topics of fatherhood, relationships or death; Lime begins with, ‘Now you’re gone for good/Been through more than anyone should/And in time you’ll see/How much better off you’ll be’, directly addressing a turbulent divorce in the singer’s close family.

These are not the only things either which rub noticeably up against the populist grain: firstly, there are no big name collaborators or show stealing co-production credits here, telling you just how comfortable the creator is on either side of the desk, whilst the absence of an image to sell or reinvent means all the focus is left to be applied to a work both of humanity and no little warmth.

But back to the commentary: we shouldn’t be sawing anything in half for anyone’s convenience, and these are far from diminishing returns, gifted by the frantic hi-hat of Riva via the wonky, heartbroken beats of Like I Love You or in Cloud Song’s woven melody lines on top of melody lines – little adventures are in every crack and sinew.

Dan Snaith hasn’t come from nowhere, but he’s arrived, now sharing a near unique creative footprint with the likes of James Blake and Kieran Hebden. On Suddenly, he opens up new angles few saw coming, perspectives twenty years in the making that will count as new treasures, far from buried.


Andy Peterson

Learn More

Leave a Reply