Caribou: Suddenly (Merge) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, July 2nd, 2020  

Caribou

Suddenly

Merge

Feb 27, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


It's been over half a decade since we were last invited into the mind of Dan Snaith under his famous Caribou moniker. On 2014s Our Love, the project delivered an expertly executed maximalist portrayal of love and connection, set atop some of the prettiest and most fully formed compositions that he has ever delivered. As is to be expected, in the intervening years, a lot has happened to Snaith on both a personal level and a tangential one. The transitions and transformations that he and others around him have undergone since Our Love's release are the most prominent through line to take away from his latest effort.

Suddenly is a project laced, in almost every aspect, with these themes of change, upheaval, and humanity's insatiable appetite for progression. It's these that inspire its more diverse sonic palette and experimental attitude to what, at other times in his career, could have been fairly obvious, uninspiring creations. The most apparent of these can be found in the album's title, inspired by Snaith's own daughter after she discovered the word "suddenly" and reportedly kept repeating it in a way that only young children can ever get away with. These ideas and the concept of change itself, regardless of motive or inspiration, translate surprisingly well into the album's 12 tracks. Snaith is notorious for creating seemingly endless amounts of potential tracks for inclusion on his projects and whittling them down to a more acceptable, manageable number—on this record alone, he is said to have created more than 900 potential songs for consideration.

The cuts that he has decided to release in the form of this album speak truly and fully to the concept behind the project. Gone, for the most part at least, are the seemingly ever-building, cohesive, and singular suites that he performed to such effect on Our Love and, in their place, we find largely more glitchy, unpredictable, and fractured compositions. This allows this album to feel fresh and worth the wait, even if it doesn't have the ease-of-listening quality that has so defined his music up to this point. Tracks like "New Jade" and "Ravi" cough and splutter their way from start to finish, incorporating a wider range of ideas than would be possible with more predictable and straightforward tracks.

These do, it has to be said, contrast in quite a jarring way with some more conventional moments, as on singles "You and I," "Never Come Back," and album track "Like I Loved You." These songs ensure that the Caribou diehards in Snaith's audience won't be left entirely unsatisfied by his latest work, even if the majority of the tracks here represent a fairly seismic shift in tack for the English producer.

It would be fair to say that Suddenly feels like the start of a different phase in Snaith's career as Caribou. In his past are some classic records, including the career highlight Swim—a benchmark he still hasn't quite matched since. But in his future, should he persist with this more experimental edge that Suddenly shows us he possesses, could lay further masterpieces of an altogether different and potentially more immersive sort. (www.caribou.fm)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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