6. Caribou – Swim [CA]
Musicians tend to get angry, frustrated or at least dismissive when blogs and the music press try to do what they do and draw big Venn loops around different albums, creating scenes, comparing trends and branding one or two adjectives onto a band’s whole creative output. Some are very leery of trying to categorise themselves, of breeding that type of discourse. But of course, it’s going to happen anyway. And sometimes it works. In the press release for Swim, there was a quote included that dominated everything written about it afterwards and, whether first- or second-hand, probably most of the thinking people did about it, if they came across it. “Dance music that sounds like it’s made out of water rather than made out of metallic stuff like most dance music does.”
It’s impossible to hear this record now and think it’s made out of anything else but water. Short of water samples, this is what water sounds like. And damned be anyone who suggests that music sounds like music, not like other stuff with non-sonic characteristics. We’re playing critic here.
It’s there. Sun’s bassline rolls in and out like tidal swells, its high percussion the foam. Bowls is more like a Japanese noble’s leafy, fountain-and-pond retreat, or what I imagine one of those is supposed to be like after seeing a reconstruction of one in a museum once. Jamelia sounds like rolling up your trousers and paddling through a shopping centre fountain after the doors are shut for the night.
It sounds like stuff other than water too though. Caribou’s brand was once centred around words like “folktronica” and “psych-prog” but Snaith has managed to retain essential personality while rolling the cart through techno and, perhaps not nearly noted enough, straight up disco loops. It’s some pure, fluid dance music, with the vocals buried and much simpler than Caribou vocals used to sometimes try to be. Hannibal is enough to make anyone dance like Richie from Jape. Swim is melancholy, but it manages to stretch that melancholy out into something to be exorcised by movement – and shared.