Starting with the humble and serendipitous theft of a sampler which had been long gathering dust in his high school’s music department, Dan Snaith’s music career has been punctuated with several weird events. After recording his critically acclaimed Up in Flames and touring in support of that album with the moniker Manitoba, he was sued by former punk rocker and current wrestler Handsome Dick Manitoba for copyright infringement over the use of the name Manitoba. Snaith’s current project Caribou, of which he continues to be the driving force, is derived from the surreal experience of being sued by an overly litigious wrestler. But based on his unique biography, Snaith has seemingly been unafraid to follow his muse wherever it takes him. His Up in Flames put him on the map as a DJ in the electronic scene but he has continued his recording career in a three piece touring band, and currently a four piece touring band.
Caribou continues a tradition of 1960s-inspired indie music – but where Andorra divulges is in the fact that this album follows the psychedelic tradition of early Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane and others, all while maintaining a strong sense of unusually syncopated, playful sounding melody.
From the opening track, “Melody Day,” to the last track, “Niobe,” the melody is overwhelming, sounding much like a cascading, crashing torrent of intricately layered sound. To the uninitiated the whole album is frightfully overwhelming – but on repeated listens there’s something completely new. Melodica, glockenspiel and flutophone add weird texture to the relatively simple guitar work – in which they all combine to sound like a ringing bell in a song like “Irene,” to create the dreamy, ethereal feel of “Eli” or to create the feel of drowning under a torrential downpour in a song such as “Melody Day.” However, the vocals are hidden so deep behind the music that the lyrics seem incomprehensible and undecipherable – and believe it or not, it might be a good thing as Snaith’s falsetto has a slightly irritating nasal quality. Certainly, Caribou’s latest effort isn’t a perfect effect but it’s by far one of the most sonically challenging and exciting efforts I’ve heard this year.