In a sentence:
His fifth Caribou album, ‘Suddenly’ is more personal and vulnerable than anything in Dan Snaith’s catalogue, but it also includes plenty of festival-friendly hits.
Considering his critical and popular stock has been at an all-time high for quite a while now, it’s somewhat surprising to think that Suddenly is Dan Snaith’s first Caribou album in well over half a decade. Having spent the Noughties alternating between his various guises that also include Manitoba and Daphni, dealing in critically lauded electronica textures while studying for a PhD in mathematics – something that has always afforded a slightly loftier perception to his music – the Canadian producer promptly released two Caribou albums of certified bangers in the last decade (2010’s Swim and 2014’s Our Love) which raised his profile significantly and have made him a big festival draw. He has operated under his less visible and well-known Daphni moniker in the interim, but this feels like a return from the wilderness of sorts, with the stakes arguably higher than on any of his previous albums.
What’s immediately noticeable about Suddenly is how intimate it feels, with recurring themes of family and loss that are obviously personal to Snaith – the record itself is named after his daughter’s favourite word. His airy vocals, normally masked or altered in his albums, are placed front-and-centre of the mix where they’re unguarded and vulnerable. The effect is to make his music, which in the dim and distant past used to be criticised as being too boffin-like and disconnected, intensely human. Starting with the disarming ‘Sister’ which opens the record (“I promise you I’m changing / you’ve heard broken promises I know”) his singing style’s informal and charmingly amateurish nature works very much in the music’s favour. Whether he’s singing about intense grief on ‘You And I’ (“You can take your place up in the sky / I will find a way to get on down here”) or merely repeating the hook phrase “and you’ll never come back” on the rave banger of recent single ‘Never Come Back’, there’s a folksiness here that’s hitherto been masked, and it works brilliantly. ‘Like I Loved You’ sounds like it might be the work of an entirely different musician but for Snaith’s vocals, as pure and straightforward a song as he’s ever written.
with any Caribou or Dan Snaith composition, the most impressive aspect of Suddenly
is the musical backdrop. Throughout its taut 43-minute run-time, Snaith
borrows liberally from dance music history, from the UK garage inflections of ‘Ravi’, the deep house of ‘Lime’ to the funky breaks and
head-nodding groove of ‘Home’
and the mellifluous soul of ‘New
Jade’. The only point at which things get a little loose and undisciplined
is the rangy closer ‘Cloud Song’,
but even here you feel it’s the result of an honest attempt to explore the
songwriting aspects of his creativity, and his voice does provide an anchor.
Dan Snaith remains an exceptional and creative producer, the main revelation of
Suddenly is that it underscores just how good a songwriter he is (and
always has been). The result is another great Caribou album that’s different to
what’s come before, but which feels comforting and familiar at the same time. (8/10)
Listen to Suddenly by Caribou here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: Dan Snaith, Ed Biggs, Suddenly
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