Caribou – Andorra

Caribou - AndorraCaribouAndorra (Merge)

There’s something happening to me, and it happens every year, so there’s no need for concern. I throw together the obligatory best of list for a calendar year and then, a month or two into the next year, I revisit some of the titles that I’d chosen and a few that I initially didn’t consider.

So here we are, a few months into ’08 and I’m already feeling that, perhaps, I put Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam a little too high in my best of list and that I may have put Panda Bear’s Person Pitch a little too low.

Even more problematic, I didn’t even consider Caribou’s latest Andorra at all.

I’m now thinking that both of those aforementioned releases may be a bit more substantial that I originally thought and that I’m playing them with a lot more frequency than Strawberry Jam.

But then again, I’ve been out of weed for a few months now, so there you go.

Which is to say that I’ll bet Caribou’s Andorra sounds positively wonderful half baked; it sounds just fine through headphones while doing mind-numbing tasks and it sounds nice through speakers while you’re trying to keep your infant daughter from ripping out the cords leading to the back of the stereo.

Andorra is gifted exercise in indie music’s recent deluge of high-caliber electronic music that incorporates retroactive instruments and devices into a very warm soundscape. Thankfully, there’s evidence of actual musicianship working in the many layers of psychedelic patterns and loops with the occasional stabs of analog performances. So while Panda Bear filters Brian Wilson through modern day software, Caribou seems content letting mid-70s Berlin electronica leak through ’67’s looking glass.

Caribou chief Daniel Snaith is a mathematician (with a doctoral degree, no less!) which may explain how all of Andorra‘s sources seem to work together in a perfect equation. There’s little throughout it that sounds like it wasn’t carefully considered before hitting “save” and, more importantly, little that sounds like it couldn’t be worked out in a live performance with actual musicians.

Snaith has also create a work with two distinct sets here: side one is Andorra‘s nod to late 60s pop, that time when Jefferson Airplane songs could actually rub shoulders with Burt Bacharach ones.

The opener “Melody Day” finds Snaith bashing away on his drum kit behind endless arrangements that swell and recess. At the moment that you think the widescreen presentation is over, Snaith kickstarts the thing into high gear again at the 3:07 mark for another go round.

The second half subtly transitions into a more electronic album that feels like a mélange of European wistfulness. It’s less on instrumentation and more on isolationism, and it provides Andorra with a more cerebral ending than if Snaith would have just made an album of the unlimited scope that is “side one.”

We’d be looking at a fairly limited album had he chosen to work exclusively with just one direction here, but since Snaith seems to be a pretty bright fellow, the two arenas of Andorra give it an extremely vital appeal.

To be fair, I did pick up Caribou late in the year and didn’t give it a fair shake until the past few months. But now that I have, and now that I hear how good it is, there’s a part of me that’s just disappointed that I could have been vacationing in Andorra‘s intricate parishes of sounds months before I finally got around to visiting it.

Book your own flight today, if you’re not already there with me.

MP3: Caribou – “Melody Day “

2 thoughts on “Caribou – Andorra”

  1. Yeah, I’m right there with you on this one. I did get it (very) late in ’07 and gave it a turn or two before putting together my year-end list, but only after submitting the list did I start to really appreciate its goodness.

    I don’t think I’d put it on the Big 10 proper, but it’d certainly make the Honorable Mentions, probably in place of Fields, which has dropped a bit in my estimation.

    The other album I’d revise the list for, that I didn’t in fact get until ’08, is St. Vincent’s Marry Me. I’ll try to put a review together for that one sometime soon, after I finish the couple I’m currently working on.

  2. I was fortunate enough to pick up on this album early in ’07 and played the hell out of the best track, “She’s the One” all summer long. So little has been said about this fantastic, lush little gem. It’s a song that should be atop the charts but, alas, it seems destined for obscurity.

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