Music News

Caribou's Dance-y New Sound Is a Risk

For Dan Snaith, the mastermind behind Canadian electronic outfit Caribou, 2010 has been a busy year, starting with the release of his critically acclaimed album Swim in April and a subsequent spring tour.

Never one to slow down, Snaith has embarked on yet another tour to promote Swim. His massive fall tour even takes Snaith to South America for the first time.

"We've never played South America before," Snaith says. "We're so excited about that. We've been touring for seven or eight years, and we've been to lots and lots of different places, and these are the first shows we're doing down [in South America]."

It's hard not to take notice of his enthusiasm about the South American gigs — mainly because the continent is uncharted territory for Snaith. Also because that part of the world features a thriving club scene, an environment to which Snaith's sensibilities gravitated after the dust settled on his Polaris Music Prize-winning album Andorra.

"We toured for a year after Andorra came out [in 2007], during which time I was making no music at all. I guess then, but also even more so when I got back, I was mostly into more kind of dance-influenced music," says Snaith. "When I got back from that tour, I was going to clubs more, I was DJ-ing more, and that definitely fed into [Swim]."

Most artists might rest on the laurels of an album like Andorra — or at least keep the same style that won such wide acclaim — but for Dan Snaith, such success became motivation to retool his approach for his next release. Never mind that Andorra could be seen as a career-defining moment for Snaith; his incessant drive to further rework his musical legacy ended up producing some of his most accessible music to date.

At the forefront of Swim's allure is lead single "Odessa," a song so succinctly enjoyable that Snaith had no choice but to make it the first Swim track everyone heard.

"I put most of 'Odessa' together in one day," he says, "And by the end of the day, I already was thinking, 'Wow, I'm really happy with this track.' Also, it's more immediate than most of the tracks that I make — it's more of a pop song. It has more of those things to make it the easy choice to be the track that introduces the album, that people hear first."

Snaith acknowledges that Swim is an album that demands multiple listens because it can take a while for its nine tracks to assume their brilliant cohesion. "I wasn't trying to make an album that was immediate. That's why 'Odessa' is good as an introduction, to break people in to the other tracks." As far as songs other than "Odessa" on the album, Snaith says, "They're more weird, more kind of eccentric. I would expect people to listen to them back a few times before they can, hopefully, grasp them."

Whereas Andorra was more about each song being "concise" and having a "top melody," Swim was, according to Snaith, "more production-based, kind of building a sonic 'thing' that would work well in a club or is kind of mesmerizing rather than being concise."

Really, who can argue with that sentiment? What worked well for his previous album went straight to the scrapheap to make way for a more ambitious effort. This self-imposed restlessness that Dan Snaith embodies is ultimately what endears him to his fan base, and that same quality comes through in Swim, cohesively forming his most accomplished work to date.

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Michael Lopez