“Can’t do without,” has become a mantra. Throughout this summer these three words have spiraled around festivals and floors, either silently absorbed or sung back in out-of-tune-stupor. The comprehensive appreciation of this chorus is largely reflective of the Dan Snaith’s achievement on his sixth studio album as Caribou. As a phrase it is so simple and gives so little away, yet in the same hand explodes with personal application, love, lust, and misery. ‘Our Love’ is one of the strongest electronic records in recent memory, and it is an exercise in intimacy.
Expectations may have shifted on the release of this record. Its hugely successful predecessor ‘Swim’ conjured a far more diverse and overtly psychedelic atmosphere, opting for clattering hooks and drops. ‘Our Love’ finds energy in far deeper recesses, embracing space and reflection for effect. The title track, similarly adopts a stripped back lyrical approach offering only the words ‘our love’ throughout. This seeming lack in content then supports an abundance of meaning, allowing interpretable nuances not only for each individual listener, but also for every one of their individual listens. The love in question can be responded to with longing and regret as easily as it can be comfort and celebration. This impressionistic take on the love song can be considered somewhat of a breakthrough, particularly in a current musical climate that favours the detailed zeitgeist referentiality of hip-hop and comprehensive meta-description of the alternative scene.
The dependency is then on the production to allow these multi-faceted meanings to soar. Snaith has clearly worked hard to cement a thematic tone, providing a piece of work that is fluid and coherent. ‘Silver’ and ‘All I Ever Need’ ride on proud but inconspicuous beats, that allow a dynamic that is both danceable and poignant. The synthesised palette of ‘Back Home’ clocks the most sinister moments on the album, and lyrically confronts the most obtuse ideas - “your kiss and touch are both like a poison”. Yet still, the clarity of the vocal and Snaith’s airy technique cloak these ideas in a fog of confusion. Much like a real break up, no voice sings clearly and no emotional parameter is easy to understand or define.
‘Julia Brightly’, for all its brevity, is a symbolic track in terms of understanding the album as a whole. At a surface level it is a relatively basic clipped electronic beat with a swirling drone behind, yet with repeat listens, under the right circumstances, it has the potential to explode and envelope. This point of circumstance is very important, for this is an album for the individual, better enjoyed through headphones at the end of the night rather that at its peak. Perhaps then this is the real achievement. Rather than capture the love we understand, Caribou has filled the spaces in between.
Words: Angus Harrison