Caribou – Our Love (ALBUM REVIEW)

caribouimageOn Caribou’s sixth album, Dan Snaith latches on to what people loved about his last albums to create Our Love: an album that is both conceptual and inviting. The concept is love. Snaith clarifies though that he is not talking about “the kind of pubescent ‘love at first sight’ new love or in the Hallmark sense.” He is talking about love as “the real and complicated way that people’s loving relationships develop over time, settling into something that they didn’t imagine at the start.” He says that to him, “Love is not some perfect platonic form but rather a collection of compromises and dependencies. But far from that debasing it – that’s what makes it the only meaningful thing there is.”

Snaith tries to keep his messages clear by using “metaphor-less language.” His beats are simple house beats. His voice is soulful and airy. The songs grow and shift within themselves, creating something unexpected around every turn. The album is about love, but it has a depth of emotions attached to it. It has woe and heartache as well as a sense of hopefulness and life. Our Love is an album made with love for the listeners.

The opening song, and one of the strongest on the entire album, “Can’t Do Without You” pulsates deeply while steadily looping the words “Can’t do without—” until a higher pitched but lovingly soft voice comes in to complete the fragmented idea, singing “I can’t do without you.” Then the whole song is overtaken by a whoosh of uptempo beat and deeper synths. The layers of the song mount, creating an energetic effect before coming back down to add an elaboration to the song. The same gentle voice gushes “And you’re the only thing I think about.” The song comes off as endearing but also a bit obsessive, which seems like a very real comment about love itself.  Many of his songs seem to describe a singular aspect about how Snaith views love. They choose to focus on one thing at a time. The songs swirl around a central idea, engulfing the listener in the moment that the man behind Caribou has chosen to explore.

Caribou on Our Love could maybe be most easily described as sounding like one of the many Chet Faker and Flume collaborations. Our Love is a lot like Caribou’s previous album Swim. It is still beat focused, still intriguing, still trancelike, but now it is also more club inspired and soulful. “Our Love” starts off with a smooth smolder created by a simple, few note synth beat and a loop of Snaith sensually cooing “our love.” Then everything disappears. The beat changes and turns into a minimalist club beat with strange effects that really show Snaith’s DJing experience obtained through his other project Daphni. Near the end of the track, the vocals are filtered back in, bringing the dynamic song full circle.

“Back Home” and “Your Love Will Set You Free” are also standouts on the record. “Back Home” reveals Snaith bare. He is completely audible and emerges sounding beautifully vulnerable. The song shifts into a soulful trip-hop and suddenly so many words are flowing from him. “Your Love Will Set You Free” is a bouncy sort of techno with muted vocals: like a sad, seductive robot. The violin part by Snaith’s long time friend, Owen Pallett, really perfects the whole thing. It makes it all the more hopelessly romantic.

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