Under the numerous aliases that he has given himself, check Dan Snaith’s music has moved in so many directions that it is impossible to pinpoint a specific genre or sound that defines it. As Manitoba, illness he delivered blissful indie shoegaze and as Daphni he explored the complexities of techno and house. But Caribou has been Snaith’s most fruitful project to date, gaining widespread recognition with 2010’s pulsating dance recordSwim.
On Our Love, Snaith takes a slightly more subtle approach, creating easily his most accessible work to date. It all kicks off with the slow burning lead single ‘Can’t Do Without You’. Built around a vocal loop, it gradually matures into a sunny club anthem. The shimmering ‘Julia Brightly’ serves as another DJ-friendly hit that recalls early Daft Punk. Nothing from Caribou’s catalog has sounded so fresh and jubilant. Jessy Lanza’s blistering vocals on ‘Second Chance’ could be a chart success but it also has the experimental edge and could comfortably fit on the latest FKA Twigs record.
It would be wrong to brand Our Love as dance music. The majority of the ten tracks are soothing electronica steeped in synth-laden sections and steady drum beats evoking a shadowy atmosphere. In ’Silver’, Snaith’s voice echoes over a vortex of synths and an alien-like female vocal sample, brooding over his heartache. Perhaps, the most absorbing and rhythmically engaging arrangement that has Snaith has come out with is ‘Mars’ – shaped by rattling percussion and eerie flute flourishes; it could almost be comparable to Daphni and would perfectly suit an aimless stroll in the thick of the night. In the sprawling closer ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’, we hear a reprise of ‘All I Ever Wanted’ in a lower register over an effervescent beat. Violins and viola courtesy of Owen Pallett enter in the outro.
Lyrically, love dominates this record. From personal reflections, optimism to utter sorrow – Snaith’s moody instrumentation blends seamlessly with his feelings. The simple repeated confession ‘I can’t do without you’ which is an ode to his wife gives a false impression of his frame of mind on the record. Especially, when he follows this up with ‘Silver’ which couldn’t be more dissimilar. Here, Snaith broods over an unnamed ex-lover before bluntly admitting ‘I wish I never met you’. He turns even more radical on ‘Back Home’ – crying ‘your kiss and your touch are both like poison’. His raw emotion is masked by his hushed voice. There are glimmers of hope amongst all the gloominess such as when Snaith ponders ‘All my life girl, people treat me bad, but this next love, will be the best I’ve ever had’. Love is both torturous but can be an escape route.
Fuelled by fervency, love, misery and mellow beats, Our Love can only be seen as a major departure for Dan Snaith. Although you can see where he is coming from when he claimed the record was ‘mind-numbingly simple’, there is a level of eclecticism with the explorations of club music and smooth engrossing electro-beats. Compared to the relatively clunky Swim, it flows faultlessly. Our Love is another milestone in the mesmerising catalogue of Dan Snaith.
By Adam Bielenberg