Wed, May 5, 2010 (4:50 p.m.)
Caribou is the musical project of Canadian math whiz Dan Snaith. (Seriously: Dude has a Ph.D. in the subject.) This nugget is important to keep in mind when attempting to understand his latest release, Swim.
Unlike 2007’s Andorra, a collection of Technicolor psych-pop, Swim is a assemblage of electro that’s abstract and detached—the sonic equivalent of complicated algorithms. Conventional structure and hooks are largely absent, replaced by DayGlo soundscapes, futuristic space jams and swampy percussion. Swim often co-opts the trappings of sterile club music: crisp hi-hat, brisk BPM and keyboard thumping.
But it isn’t a dance record, either; the chilled beats and bat-cave noir of “Odessa” and “Leave House” hint at accessibility lacking elsewhere; Swim frequently prizes atmosphere over emotional engagement. Even at its most experimental, Caribou shouldn’t lose sight of the heart beneath the zeroes and ones.