Caribou
Andorra


4.0
excellent

Review

by Louis Arp EMERITUS
August 23rd, 2007 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Daniel Snaith finds structure for his latest batch of machinations.

I like to imagine there is a box in Daniel Snaith’s bedroom, plain and unadorned, approximately the size of a small concrete block. Inside the box, there is another box and within that nested box, there is a tiny tree that blooms a variety of chromatic miniature fruits.

Some evenings, Snaith opens his box. He opens the box within his box as well, plucking the ripest fruit from whatever branch sags most. Then, with the serenity of a midwife, he walks into his kitchen and opens a drawer. He pulls out a knife. It’s like a graduated toothpick, a backstabber with a comparatively massive handle. He places the minuscule fruit on a wooden board and slices it open. Juice spurts; he pulls back the rind (with great difficulty on account of the size of this tiny fruit) and eats the flesh, picking the seeds out with great care. The flesh of the fruit is sweet, but not satisfying.

When he finishes, he picks a seed, tosses the rest and walks out onto a balcony-- or perhaps garden, should he live in a house-- and deposits the seed into a nest of mirthless soil. A wait of five or six weeks, and then the phone rings. It’s Lucille. She wants her herald back. He’s had it since last winter, she says. Took it after he returned the muezzin and posies, which he borrowed last spring. He doesn’t remember; the posies wilted a long time ago, but he promises her that he will look for it. Oh, and in the midst of all these delusions he somehow makes music, too.

Andorra is the latest product of this swirl of bedroom fancies, another record full of shoegaze, krautrock and psychedelic tropes, his first for Merge Records. Unfazed by the moniker shift, Snaith continues in the tradition of his catalogue, offering a vision of symphonic pop on a laptop that reeks of none of the manic computer affectation that stymies the work of so many bedroom producers. But if Snaith’s gift is to make digital sound organic, it’s his broad sonic palette that draws listeners in and captivates the ear.

Sure enough, Snaith is plenty capable of immediate delights. Retro-electro psychedelic confections like the furiously catchy “Melody Day” find him looking towards the melodic elegance of baroque pop for inspiration, even if he doesn’t stray far from his Teutonic rhythmic urges. It’s not until “Desiree,” perhaps an homage to baroque pop paragons The Left Banke, that we see just how far he is willing to take this interest. No hint of the Manitoba motorik beats and trip-hop stomp that defines so many Caribou tunes, just wistful melodicism and ornate arrangement, the stuff of a Curt Boettcher desert tray.

To be fair, preciousness has never been foreign to Snaith’s brand of electronic manipulation. But if it wasn’t for his growth as a songwriter, the change might be more oppressive. It’s his impressive development in this sense that keeps Andorra from toppling over against the weight of all the fanciful genre-bending. On “She’s the One,” a collaboration with Junior Boy Jeremy Greenspan, he shows capable of restraint, letting Greenspan’s boyish presence elevate above minimal fuss. Meanwhile, tracks like “Irene” suggest that the evolving pop of his previous outing The Milk of Human Kindness is capable of evaporating into kind, accessible atmospherics. Even when he does slip into the ether with a cut like “Niobe” or “After Hours,” his washes of sound seem more controlled than ever, boarding on a systematic quality that could sound robotic and gone if pushed further.

The dichotomy between Snaith’s growth as a songwriter versus the constraints of his songwriting methods seem more balanced here compared to The Milk of Human Kindness, which proves much more of a transitory album in the light of Andorra. Whereas the 2005 version of Caribou missteps here and there and becomes staid from its lack of pliancy, Andorra strikes out further, reaching deeper into Snaith’s box of musical curiosities which are, at once, tasteful and fruitfully tawdry. Phantasmagoric and stunningly organic, another crowd pleaser for fans of Daniel Snaith’s aural hallucinogens.



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user ratings (171)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
August 23rd 2007


7926 Comments


fucking brilliant review, i might check this out just because of it even though it's not my usual "style".
seriously though, you don't write nearly enough for someone of your talent. is louis your actual name or another alias?

Robert Crumb
Emeritus
August 23rd 2007


165 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I write lots, not all of it ends up here, though. I'm going to try and contribute more here. I've neglected my duties as a staff writer for long enough, I guess.

Louis Arp is an anagram of my name. This Message Edited On 08.23.07

Apocalyptic Raids
August 23rd 2007


810 Comments


Awesome review, i might check this out sometime.

blackmilk
August 23rd 2007


584 Comments


Bobby Crumb rules all.

Monticello
August 23rd 2007


805 Comments


Still the best reviewer ever.

handsomerob2
August 23rd 2007


58 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I heard Melody Day and immediately became interested in Caribou. Snaith has a Ph. D. in Advanced Mathematics apparently. I'd definitely like to hear this.

CarloVonSexron
August 24th 2007


25 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review mate, for a excellent album. Cheers.

TheStarclassicTreatment
August 24th 2007


2910 Comments


Holy shit, this is one of the best reviews ever, you're amazing man

blackmilk
August 24th 2007


584 Comments


this is pretty good

but i think once i get a better set of headphones i will like it more

joshuatree
Emeritus
August 26th 2007


3742 Comments


eh. im not sure if i would like this. good review though.

ZapatoDiablo
August 31st 2007


167 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What a great review. I feel that my rating may go higher as I listen to this album some more.

The Door Mouse
August 31st 2007


2092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmm. Not bad. But like Eliminator said, it's probably better with good headphones.

Pallyo
September 30th 2007


3 Comments


This album is fantastic, and i definitely agree with you about it being fruitfully tawdry - the songs seem to brim with psychedelic flourishes around the main rhythms and melodies. 'Melody Day', 'Sun Dialing' and 'Niobe' are stand outs, but then again the whole album rocks.

handsomerob2
October 29th 2007


58 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Eli, She's the One and Niobe.

Wow

Aficionado
December 25th 2007


1027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've seen this album in my record store so many times and have never got around to buy it, but now that it's closing down and its 50-70% off, I now know that I NEED to get this.

Amazing review as usual, I look upto you as a reviewer Robert Crumb, simply brilliant stuff.

samariah
January 31st 2008


109 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review

this album is delicious

silverleaves
February 1st 2008


438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album, his sound has really evolved on this record
for now im going to rate it a 3.5 only because i dont think it lives up to his more electronic sound like on Milk of Human Kindness, but it'll probably go higher once i listen to it more

fantastic review btw

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

cbmartinez
February 19th 2008


2525 Comments


I've been listening to this a lot lately, it's such a fantastic album. And it's so creepy how much he sounds like Elliott Smith.

silverleaves
March 20th 2008


438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not only is this album amazing, but the music is great live too, one of the best live shows i've been to

timbo8
July 16th 2008


618 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

cant stand his voice, really cant warm up to this



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