16. Caribou - Swim
Dan Snaith (the guy who is Caribou) has been no stranger to me. After all, he used to be Owen Pallett's roommate, so I couldn't not know who he was. Despite the multiple recommendations and multiple attempts at listening to his records, though, I never could get into his music. That changed this year with this record, Swim.
I should admit that I might not have included this album at all (and could have replaced it easily with Four Tet's There is Love in You) if I had not had the opportunity to see Caribou perform live this fall. You might remember my post about it. In short, it was an amazing concert, and hearing the majority of these songs in that context boosted this album's appeal immensely for me. My respect for Snaith as a musician and performer also has compounded. So it might not be the most fair thing, as the live performance gave this album an edge many other did not, but fuck you, it's my list.
It takes a rare kind of psychedelia to impress me into liking it, and Swim is one of those exceptions, mostly due to the fact, I think, that it does not rely on psychedelia alone to engage the listener. The hallmark sounds are there, but Snaith infuses other more captivating musical stylings, from the danceable, syncopated bass of "Odessa," to the straight-up funk of "Leave House." That is not to say that I don't enjoy when it delves entirely into more abstract constructions, because "Sun" is a favorite of mine--it was probably the best live song too. The constant mantra of the word "sun" turns into another layer of texture on the track and really makes it stand out. The bells in "Bowls" are impressive too.
Overall, what I like about this album is how catchy and danceable every song is, yet it can just as easily function as background music for doing nothing more than spacing out. I'm partial to the dance side, but the expertly-crafted versatility of the music is what has turned me, finally, into a Caribou-convert. Swim isn't my favorite electronic album of 2010, but it let me hear new things and provided me with some unforgettable concert-going memories. Mr. Snaith, you have my apologies and gratitude.