After the critical acclaim of Our Love, Dan Snaith returns after five years with a new album under his Caribou moniker. After a busy 2019, releasing the Sizzling EP as Daphni, his party-starting alter ego, and playing festivals across Europe, it’s a welcome surprise to have a new Caribou album.
Thematically, this new album is a continuation to Our Love, with Snaith’s relationships and the love for his family and friends taking centre-stage. Yet Suddenly hits far deeper, like the emotions laid bare in its predecessor were compressed into a kaleidoscopic prism that Snaith uses to explore each new song in minute detail. This emotional impact is reinforced by Snaith’s vocals that, for the first time, are present on every track. On many, he gives voice to his loved ones by singing from their perspective, which leads to more poignant lyrical content.
Whereas Daphni’s output is more rooted in the dancefloor, Caribou’s music serves as a snapshot of Snaith’s life. It always feels familiar, like finding a well-worn, comfy jumper in your wardrobe you had forgotten about. The summery warmth of singles ‘Home’ and ‘You and I‘ are the perfect panacea to this winter’s harsh, stormy weather. On ‘Home’, vintage samples and synths mirror the sense of ease the song’s protagonist feels in returning home but just as listeners are lulled in, it changes trajectory. With its melancholic falsetto, ‘You and I’ begins as a sombre reflection on loss before a triumphant guitar solo bursts in over a cacophony of synths, morphing it into a celebration of life. ‘Sunny’s Time’ entrances with hypnotic, pitch-shifted piano melodies that weave in and out before an indecipherable vocal sample hijacks the track, again producing an unexpected and delightful left-turn.
‘New Jade’ is a lyrical companion to ‘Home’, with Snaith supporting a friend in leaving a difficult relationship. Unlike the vintage vibe of ‘Home’, ‘New Jade’ is a propulsive House banger, with thumping drum-rolls that climax in a rapid-fire sequence of its chopped-up, pitch-shifted sample. Snaith commented that ‘Never Come Back’ was a lot of fun to make and this is reflected in the music. It is a glorious dance anthem with a catchy looping refrain and playful, energetic synth chords. ‘Like I Love You’ is a personal favourite, with Snaith giving his most confident vocal performance whilst sounding his most vulnerable. Close collaborator Colin Fisher’s woozy guitar riff adds to this juxtaposition, with vibratoed notes mimicking Snaith’s uncertainty.
Suddenly’s final three tracks, ‘Magpie’, ‘Ravi’ and ‘Cloud Song’, are also its most musically diverse. ‘Magpie’ is subdued and contemplative, with compressed vocals, reminiscent of John Lennon on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, being the central focus. Whereas ‘Ravi’ is an airy House tune that bounces along, with an abundance of synths dropping in and out throughout, culminating in a euphoric crescendo. At almost seven minutes, ‘Cloud Song’ takes a befitting length of time to bookend this metamorphic album and chapter of Dan Snaith’s life. Layers of melodies slowly build in a way that is characteristically Caribou, starting as a single synth joined by Snaith’s vocals before other elements momentarily surface. Eventually, a beautiful collage of sounds is crafted around Snaith’s voice but as it culminates, the song disperses. Suddenly is a rich tapestry of experiences, emotions and influences that have been coalescing for the past five years. The album is all the richer for it and its intricate, constantly evolving songs will continue rewarding fans until Snaith is ready to share the next snapshot from his life.
Buy: Caribou – Suddenly