- A lot has happened since Dan Snaith released Swim in 2010. Most significantly, the Canadian artist started making dance music as Daphni, which made his budding role in that world official but also painted a line between the "accidental dance" of Caribou and the more purposeful grooves of his Jiaolong label. "Can't Do Without You," the first single from Our Love and this year's undeniable summer anthem, seemed to bring Snaith's alter egos closer together, but most of the new album doesn't strike the same balance. Instead, it sounds a little confused.
Much of Our Love sounds like what you'd expect from post-Daphni Caribou. "Silver" updates the '60s-obsessed psychedelia of his earlier work and refits it with humid, billowing synths, but the way its outro bursts into searing krautrock guitar is classic Caribou. The title track reaches for the same festival heights as "Sun," but trails off into deep house pastiche, all bumping basslines and vamping chords—disappointingly shallow for an artist whose best songs have a way of stirring complex feelings in the listener.
Still, a good half of Our Love is on par with the rest of the Caribou catalogue. "All I Ever Need" is slinky, arpeggiated R&B that pits Snaith's reedy voice against full-bodied synths. "Mars" is essentially a banging Daphni track with flutes. Brightening up the album's second half, "Julia Brightly" is a goofy slice of rushing garage filled with trigger-happy filter sweeps. Best of all might be "Back Home," a stark ballad that explodes into surging synth pop à la Depeche Mode at their angstiest.
The decisive chorus on "Back Home" stands out on Our Love, which otherwise often feels placid. You wait for Snaith to really let it rip, and it just doesn't happen—it's like he's afraid of making too much racket. The biggest victim of this is Jessy Lanza, who appears on "Second Chance" in a partnership that should have been pure gold. It's hard to know why this one went wrong: Snaith's synth backing is smooth and alluring, and Lanza sings more confidently than ever. But put them together and they disappear into each other like white paint on a white canvas, an amorphous blob of sound that just kind of sits there.
Like most Caribou albums, Our Love is a grower, and over the last few months I've come to appreciate its nuanced production, even on songs that initially fell flat. But I still can't help but feel underwhelmed. Considering how Snaith has grown since Swim, Our Love could have been a career-defining masterpiece. Instead, it sits defiantly in the middle of the road, combining Snaith's psychedelic past and his more recent style of dance music without really capturing what makes either one great.
01. Can't Do Without You
03. All I Ever Need
04. Our Love
06. Second Chance
07. Julia Brightly
09. Back Home
10. Your Love Will Set You Free