"Swim is an itchy, gurgling, shapeshifter of an album, built from experiments in dance music, melodies that oscillate restlessly across the speakers..."
You may have heard of Dan Snaith most recently in the context of the trademark lawsuit that forced him to change his artist name from "Manitoba". Sued by ageing punk rocker Handsome Dick Manitoba, despite Dick never having released an album under the name "Manitoba", and finding himself limited by the high-priced realities of trademark law, Snaith opted to take the high road and change his nom de rock to Caribou. No news yet on whether the remote Canadian province of Manitoba (whence Snaith took his moniker) is planning on changing its name.
Disillusioned, but resolute, Snaith took the blows in his stride. After four years of making music part-time, touring on college breaks while completing his PhD in Mathematics, his studies were coming to an end. From looking forward to concentrating full-time on music, he was suddenly back at square one, having to re-write his artistic history and start afresh. Working on his third album, the stakes suddenly seemed a lot higher. The music mattered more than ever.
To this point Snaith has already built a legacy of near universal critical adulation and amassed an ever-growing legion of fans worldwide. Each of the three Manitoba/Caribou albums is highly distinctive. Start Breaking My Heart (2001) rivaled the likes of Boards of Canada for exquisite melodies and a yearning sense of nostalgia, while the critical and commercial leap forward of Up In Flames (2003) was like being unleashed in an unparalleled, magical fairyland of riotous, ecstatic sound. The band toured the world for a year (in bear masks) to captivated audiences, performing with peers and heroes like Stereolab, Prefuse 73, Four Tet and Broadcast. The live touring trio for Up In Flames involved two drummers, alongside the blinding day-glo shimmer of electronics, guitar, glockenspiel and keyboards. It was all about expressing a bright, heavy and happy cacophony.
The Milk of Human Kindness is Snaith's most focused and ambitious album to date, inspired by music ranging from early 70s Krautrock to hip-hop mega-producer Kanye West to new avant-rock outfits such as Animal Collective and Lightning Bolt. "It's the conviction of these artists that unifies their work for me", explains Snaith. It's a conviction that in apparent in The Milk of Human Kindness from the very first listen.
Caribou has a hectic year of touring planned in support of the album with even more attention given to the live show than previously. With plans to expand the show to harness the propulsive nature of Snaith's music it promises to be unmissable.