Caribou, Our Love

Sandra Song

Caribou, Our Love [Merge]

An automated slow-burner, Caribou’s aptly titled Our Love, twists and turns in ways you don’t expect, tricking you with its deceptively straightforward “club-inspired” tagline. By now we know Polaris Prize-winner Dan Snaith always has something else up his sleeve, and his latest offering is no exception. A strangely familiar yet foreign rework of what you’d expect from the classic chilled-out club so popular amongst the jetset beach crowd, it’s oddly mechanical. Almost as if you soundtracked a self-consciously B-rate robotic romance flick.

A marked move away from the glitchy, loop-based tracks that first catapulted him to critical acclaim on Swim, Our Love is a dancefloor-ready album that’s smoother, groovier, and filled with a series of hypnotic head-bobbers. A future-looking reinterpretation of your run-of-the-mill Balaeric beat meets disco dance, it adheres to what he says is his “continuation of that trajectory of trying to make my own thing and make it contemporary.”

And though it’s been strangely dubbed “tender club,” it’s far more multidimensional than the initial billing would lead you to believe.

Disguised as a collection of trance-inducing techno-influenced tracks, if one listens closely it becomes evident that there’s something far more intricate about the series of glitchy samples and complicated drum patterns that permeate the entire album. A series of deceptively lulling sounds, there are little surprises, ranging from woozy accents to a glimmering synth line that ripples past the four-on-the-floor in the blink of an eye.

An oddly detached feeling of ballad-like serenity pervades most of the album, with tracks like “Silver” reminding you of why Caribou originally earned his “chillwave” seal of approval back in 2010 . With winnowing, glimmering synths, and slow head-bob beat that gradually fades into “All I Ever Need”, it’s all a gentle stymy through woozy lines and hypnagogic basslines, immediately conjuring up visions of carefully rehearsed, silver-plated beach parties.

However, there are definitely moments when it toes the line and feels overwhelmingly staged and exaggerated. Take tracks like “Our Love”, which while pleasant and breathy, still screams “que romántico,” it’s in the cheesy telenovela sense with the reverb-y croons and overdramatic string bits.

It’s what makes the more multidimensional track like “Second Chance” shine so bright. Featuring the R&B vocal stylings of the impeccable Jessy Lanza, there’s an arpeggiated, modulated piano and a subtle use of intriguing, discordant tones. It strays away from the album’s overarching theme by mixing fuzzy, breathy enunciation that quickly dissipate behind a steady clap track and oscillating underlying synth. Hinting at something a little more human.

“Mars” is another appropriately otherworldly song that also isn’t shy about the fact that it’s attempting to go in a completely different direction. Though I’m a little unsure about the implications surrounding the exotic-sounding pan flutes, the overall pulsating effect to the rhythm of a breakbeat is serene. Entirely danceable while still maintaining an essential air of intrigue, which continues to be charitable.

But perhaps most emblematic of this futurist-tinged ethos is “Can’t Do Without You”, a sparse, reverb-heavy jam that’s a slightly depressing way to start off an album, yet a brilliant statement that screams a strange sort of emotional detachment present within the mechanical drumbeats and techno/house-inspired synth lines that waver noncommittally throughout the entire track.

It’s a surprising album and one that takes a couple of listens to make sense of, but once you do it becomes the kind of stuff that’s perfect for sipping Tequila Sunrises to.

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