Caribou

Swim by Caribou (Merge Records)

After the Beach Boys-inspired soft rock of 2007’s Andorra, Daniel Snaith returns to the dance floor with Swim. The album opens with the awkward rhythms of Odessa, funky guitar scratches and percussion creep in and soon you’ll be dancing like a spazz. Sun rides on vibrating bassy synth and echoed dub effects, Snaith’s voice used more as texture, simply repeating the song title as the various elements become more aggressive and the shuffling beat speeds up.

Fuzzed out synths blend with horns and fluttering flute sounds, joining Snaith’s high vocals for a blissful result on Kalil. Bowls is positively thrilling, employing harp runs and clanging and ringing bells bells bells over a pumping beat and humming low end. There’s even a techno-house middle passage complete with handclaps, the song a highpoint of the album.

Leave House follows with a wind instrument loop, upbeat percussion and is a soulful dance floor romp with Snaith singing sexily. When the horns kick in and the low end gets lower, your mind and mood will be lifted even higher. Hannibal keeps the energy up, building on a gritty synth and plastic burbles, horns drop in, there’s some weird tempo changes and Snaith sings some forlorn vocals as the beat slows down and horns play away sadly.

Swim closes with Jamelia, Snaith cutely singing around a bunch of spidery keyboard runs and strings, then emoting soulfully against harsh and clattering synths before fading to silence.

Swim is a sometimes strange yet wholly enjoyable listen from start to finish, one of the most vital albums of 2010.

(Review by Bret Miller)

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