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Caribou – Our Love (Merge)

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Four years since he last used the Caribou moniker Dan Snaith, returns with a new album Our Love. 2010’s Swim was one of the surprise hits of that year: combining minimal techno and house, with a pop sensibility he crafted an album that worked just as well sound tracking moves on the dance floor as it was riding on the tube to work. In 2012 Snaith released the side project Jiaolong under the name of Daphni, Jiaolong took the idea of Caribou, but he created music on the spot, rather than through careful and meticulous planning. While the results felt more artistically fulfilling than Swim, it was perhaps unfairly panned.

Listening to Our Love for the first time, the first thing I noticed were the vocals. Unlike previous Snaith albums, there are now live vocals (rather than manipulated vocal samples), this subtle change, gives the tracks an organic feel they previously lacked. Musically Snaith is still exploring minimal techno and house, but there is a playfulness that isn’t present on his previous releases. The flute on Mars’ gives the track an extra organic texture that is a nice juxtaposition between the stark uniformed beats.

Unfortunately there is a downside, at times it’s hard to tell the tracks apart this is partly down to repetitive nature of the backing tracks. It is hard to keep a winning formula fresh, especially in dance music. While Snaith has tried with his use of different and interesting samples, at times it all merges into one undistinguishable soundscape. All I Ever Need’ sounds like a re-working of Skream‘s Midnight Request Line’, but with a pop twist. Title track ‘Our Love’ is reminiscent of Inner City’s classic Good Life’ in places, this nod to the past classics show’s that Snaith has respect for the scene and isn’t just the new flavour of the month.

While Our Love doesn’t reach the heights of Swim or Jiaolong, there is plenty to interact with. The production is slick and the tracks make you dance, but after the breakthrough success of Swim and the filthiness of the Jiaolong this feels a bit flat. There appears to be a lack of experimentation that made Swim and Jiaolong so vibrant and exciting to listen to. This is a shame as overall it’s a good album. Snaith has successfully crated album full of tracks that would be accepted as the backing on the dance floor as much as the dinner party. If you were to compare Snaith’s albums to the Premier League, Swim and Jiaolong would be Manchester City and Chelsea, whereas Our Love would be Stoke or Southampton. It has good tracks, but overall it’s flawed and will never reach the Europa League, let alone win the title outright.

[Rating:3]

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