Caribou's 'Suddenly' is as experimental and adventurous as his previous work yet more refined and profound

The album really shows off Dan Snaith's skill as a musician as he weaves together synths and jazz guitar solos with his beautifully melodic falsettos


                            Caribou's 'Suddenly' is as experimental and adventurous as his previous work yet more refined and profound
Daniel Victor Snaith of Caribou (Getty Images)
ADVERTISEMENT

Caribou, one of the many stage names under which Canadian musician Daniel Victor Snaith performs, has returned with 'Suddenly', an album that combines his amazing signature style while also seeing Snaith do what he does best - experiment.

While Snaith has released music under the stage name 'Daphni' as recently as 2017, fans haven't heard from Caribou since 2014's 'Our Love', which was an electronic, R&B, and hip hop album that reflected on Snaith's success and was heavily influenced by the birth of his daughter, making it much more personal than his previous work. With 'Suddenly', Snaith leans more into this more pensive style of writing, and the result is a record that is dreamy and mesmerizing yet also raw and emotional at the same time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lyrically, this album is definitely a step-up for Snaith, who has been through a series of personal losses and struggles during his time away. Unlike previous albums, Snaith's voice is at the forefront of this one. And it's an absolute welcome addition. They're not the powerhouse vocals we're used to hearing on modern pop or R&B songs, yet the softness in his vocals is exactly what makes them stand out. Snaith's gentle vocals add an edge to all the songs on this album and he mixes them to perfection on each track, really driving home the emotion behind the words that would otherwise get buried under the electronic-heavy melodies.

ADVERTISEMENT

'Never Come Back' features the lyrics "And you never come back / And you never come back to" over and over again and it's super catchy, but the tiny bits of lyrics that fit in between these repetitions are where Snaith really conveys the meaning behind this track: "I can never forget it / Promise me that you don't regret it / You and I were together / Even though we both knew better."

ADVERTISEMENT

(L-R) Musicians Ryan Smith, Dan Snaith, John Schmersal and Brad Weber of Caribou perform onstage during day 1 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 10, 2015 in Indio, California (Getty Images)

'Sister' opens with Snaith singing "Sister, I promise you I'm changing / You've had broken promises I know / If you want to change you must break it / Rip up and something new will grow," over a dreamy melody as a sample from an old tape of his mother singing a lullaby to his sister weaves in and out. This short intro sets up the tone for the album and leads into the beautifully warm 'You and I' that carries with it a real sense of nostalgia. This is the kind of track you'd expect playing as a character in a movie decides to live for themselves and goes off on a road trip of self-discovery. Which is fitting when you realize the lyrics are a gentle goodbye to a lost loved one: "You can take your place up in the sky / I will find a way to carry on down here." Speaking about the song, Snaith has said "It's a sad story - I hope this doesn't change your feelings about the song. it's about my wife's mother who lost her son to a heart attack and dealing with that unimaginable loss." This explanation gives 'You and I' much more depth while also explaining why this song feels so healing.

ADVERTISEMENT

'Magpie' also talks about the loss of a loved one, but has a very different vibe to 'You and I'. Snaith's vocals on this sound like something off a Beatles record and the somber tune is followed with the rather upbeat 'Ravi' that restores hope after a moment of grieving.

Despite Snaith switching his focus to songwriting with this album, it's the track 'Sunny's Time' that really stands out the most. The song has a warp-like effect on it and switches back and forth between a rap and a piano solo, even introducing a saxophone in the background. Snaith has said this song felt like a return to roots for him due to the inclusion of a piano. It is also, however, an elevation of what he is so good at doing - mixing songs and melodies in a way that is totally unique and fresh without being so different that it's hard to listen to. 'Sunny's Time' is really Snaith at his best.

ADVERTISEMENT

The rest of the album features some tracks that sound like throwbacks and in some cases actually are. 'New Jade' is a funky take on the classic 'Home' by Gloria Barnes, and 'Lime' samples Black Soul’s 'The Sphynx'. There's also the more instrumental-heavy 'Filtered Grand Piano', which sounds exactly like the name says it will sound like. It's also the only track to not feature any vocals whatsoever.

ADVERTISEMENT

'Like I Loved You' is probably the most emotional song on the album, with Snaith singing about an ex-lover and the pain of having to accept that they might be with someone new. The song sounds like a Red Hot Chilli Peppers ballad that was run through the classic Snaith warp.

The album closes with 'Cloud Song' and this is the culmination of everything on this album - gut-wrenching lyrics like "I'm broken, so tired of crying / Can't seem to find my way to you" are sung over a melody that gets progressively more layered as the song goes forward and Snaith's signature style takes the simpler melody from the start and takes it apart, warping it bit by bit so it seems like it'll fall apart at any second and yet, somehow, he delivers a perfectly put-together track. And by extension, a beautifully put-together album.

ADVERTISEMENT