CD Review: Caribou

Swim (Merge)

Dan Snaith has had a fragmented career. He issued his initial recordings as Manitoba until a lawsuit threat from Dictators singer "Handsome Dick" Manitoba forced him to change to Caribou. He's been a spiritual and physical nomad, hailing from London, Ontario, living in London, England, and exploring German-music influences. Snaith has also taken a fragmented approach to making records, with no two sounding completely alike. What that means for fans of 2007's Andorra is that he's shifted gears again. Gone is the warm, melodic psych-pop of his breakthrough album. Gone too is the cute and cuddly electronic music of his Manitoba days. Instead, the bulk of Swim is as stilted and fussy as music by a mathematician — which happens to be Snaith's other gig. Before, he avoided coming across as studied as a theorist, but the insufferable "Sun" and clanging "Bowls" sound less like songs than treatises. Many of the songs here seem intentionally repulsive, with Snaith replacing warm layering with stark sounds (like in "Leave House"). There are moments when the organic approach of Snaith's earlier records seeps through, particularly in "Jamelia." But these are the exception, on Snaith's least engaging record where he holds the material, his listeners and the dance floor at arm's length. Drabick

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