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Caribou - Andorra

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Artist: Caribou

Album: Andorra

Label: Merge

Review date: Aug. 17, 2007

Heard blind, you’d never know that Andorra is the work of a musician who made some minor waves in the IDM community. While there’s plenty of evidence that contemporary electronics helped realize this music, what hits your ears first is its debt to songs that were written 40 years ago.

Opening track “Melody Day” kicks things off with a brisk beat and flute-festooned melody that the Supremes might not have minded using. The echo-laden vocals on “Sandy” remind me of the Mamas And The Papas. “Desiree’s” vocal froth flirts with the Beach Boys. And if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Ringo Starr laid down the too-too much beats on “Eli.”

But within a minute and a half “Melody Day” also tips the hat to the fact that this record is the heir to Caribou’s 2005 release The Milk Of Human Kindness, when Dan Snaith (the only reindeer in the studio) piles the tune up against one of his trademarked drum surges. This is, after all, a performer who lets a computer play all the vocal tracks in concert while he and half his band wail away on drum kits. Elsewhere he blurs the timeline by planting some New Order-ish synths amidst the Joe Meek reverb; in a post-file-sharing world, it’s all just music, stuff to dig, hopefully digest and plow back into your own material.

Andorra is nearly as exuberant as Human Kindness, but it’s lighter, with sampled strings and flutes weaving in and out of swirling vocals that are forever mentioning some woman’s name. Despite its music-geek-pleasing period references and psychedelic density, this is ultimately a frothy pop record full of hopeful love songs.

By Bill Meyer

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