Caribou: Swim

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Artist: Caribou

Title: Swim
Release date: April 20
Label: Merge

Sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and declare, "I don't get it." And I'm not talking about matters of taste, because people like what they like, and that's totally cool. The older I get as a music fan, I try to take matters of taste out of the equation. You like cookie-monster vocals or Justin Bieber or Avril Lavigne? No problem. My taste (hey, I like Kiss, Sweet, The Runaways, Slade, Suzi Quatro, and Gary Glitter) certainly been judged by many over the years.

No, I'm talking about matters of quality. Critics are heaping acclaim on the new record by electronica artist Caribou. They are judging Swim as good. On the review aggregator Metacritic.com, Swim has a score of 85 out of 100. Indie-rock bible Pitchfork.com, rated the record 8.6 out of 10 and labeling it "best new music."
Matters of taste aside (chill-out synth music isn't my cup of tea; I find it better suited as background music in swanky hotel lobbies), what makes this good music? I just don't know. Sorry. Will someone explain it to me?

I asked a co-worker friend, Ben, who likes this genre of music and really digs artists such as Caribou, Four Tet, Bonobo, Delphic, Hot Chip, and Massive Attack. Dude's also a DJ. His answer: "I bet you 90 percent of music critics do drugs. Caribou is some good music to listen to when you're out of your element. Coincidentally, Swim came out on 4/20 . . ."

I knew there had to be a simple explanation.

Best song: "Odessa," the opening track. Admittedly, not a band song and far and away the best track on Swim.
Rotation: Low
Deja vu: $12 cocktails.
I'd rather listen to: Intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus(x2)-outro.
Grade: D

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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