Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Spiral Spinning Round

Considering Dan Snaith's previous work as Manitoba and under current moniker Caribou, his new album Andorra feels logical in terms of musical progression, albeit while sounding more free-spirited than ever before. I thought The Milk of Human Kindness was a great album because Snaith balanced hip hop influenced rhythms ("Lord Leopard") and progressive Beck-like sounds ("Yeti"), while constantly reverting to psych-tinged 60's production and guitar ("Bees"). The percussive elements would shuffle, but the mood created on "Bees" was the constant that felt like a spine great ideas would stem from and branch out. The variety is less apparent on Andorra, but it seems as though he used that song as a jumping off point for this new effort.

The instrumentation on Andorra shifts pretty effortlessly between classic sounding string parts and digital melodies provided by keys and synths. The product could be placed somewhere between Sufjan Stevens and Miracle Fortress in terms of style, meaning that layers are at the forefront though the songs themselves are earnest and straightforward. There are a few electronic departures, the most obvious being the last two songs "Irene" and "Niobe". However, the prevalent sound is brightly coloured pop relying on flutes, bells, chimes, and various vocal effects. That sensibility is the selling point, from opener and single "Melody Day" to the fluttering "Eli". There comes a point in the latter when a strong saxophone part creeps into the wall of sound, making the song burst at its seams. Where Milk might have suddenly changed direction on a song like this, Andorra pursues its target, building steadily to a peak never before reached on a Caribou record.

Andorra's one of the stronger Canadian releases of '07, pick it up if you get a chance.

Caribou - Melody Day
Caribou - Eli

- brad

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