Friday, December 28, 2007

The 20 Best Albums of 2007 - Caribou: "Andorra"

10.  I still refer to this artist as Manitoba, since I refuse to acknowledge "Handsome" Dick Manitoba is talented enough to lay claim to the name. In any event, the man now known as Caribou (Dan Snaith) continues to push the boundaries of psych-pop into uncharted waters with each successive release.

Of course, on Andorra Snaith provides his audience with further takes on the sound he's been building on since 2003's Up In Flames. That is, signature collages of Nuggets-era rhythms, chamber-pop vocal harmonies and electronic wizardry permeate throughout the album, but this time the music sounds more focused than it ever has been. For the first time ever Snaith lets each idea play out to its logical conclusion and steers away (mostly) from tangential interludes and extemporaneous noise.

The tighter structure of the songs compliments Snaith's vocals, which are far more prominent than in his first two records. Whereas previously his lyrics were concise and merely complimentary to the songs' melody, it now sounds like Snaith has something to say. Mostly, he's musing about the innocence of  love, which fits the kaleidoscope of sounds he creates as the backdrop perfectly. And just when you think he has no more tricks left up his sleeve, Snaith concludes Andorra with "Niobe", a nine minute opus of beautiful cacophonous electronic patchwork that is among the best material he has ever written.

Indeed, it is this penchant for constantly refining and experimenting with his signature sound that makes Caribou such a compelling artist to begin with. Andorra proves Snaith's lofty praise from critics is totally warranted and that others should take notice whenever he puts his mad genius skills to work.

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