Monday, 14 March 2011

010 - Manitoba (Up In Flames)

Whereas Swim is characterised by its urbanity and its reflection of club culture, Dan Snaith's second full-length is of the countryside, the outdoor. Up In Flames belongs to a place without boundaries, somewhere green and brown, with rolling hills or sparse forest: wherever it is, the sun's shining. What I hear most strongly is how natural the album is - due in part to the samples of birds chirping and dogs barking: it's also so inherently trippy.

One of the things I admire in a band - something Caribou share with Radiohead and Animal Collective - is how their sound has changed with each release. Although certain continuities are detectable, each album of the three aforementioned bands stands independently from those before and after it. This to me demonstrates talent worth recognizing, for many bands struggle to find variety throughout a single album let alone an entire oeuvre. Secondly, it shows a boldness of character, a willingness to step into the unknown, to challenge themselves to do something new and unheard. I see this as bold because it rejects simply re-producing that which was successful, a move that cannot come easily. The shift most audible in Swim is that of the one away from 'percusso-centricity'. The earlier albums are filled with crazy, wandering drum lines that really stand in the foreground, but whose presence decreases with time. Seeing as they're what really make pre-Swim Caribou, I would be annoyed were it not for the fact that they've been replaced by banging, club-inspired hooks - a fair trade-off.

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