Caribou – ‘Suddenly’: unabashed slappers sit easily next to experimental, unsettling electronica

After nearly 20 years, the Canadian producer retains his weirdness on a progressive, enchanting treat of an album

Dan Snaith’s journey over the past two decades has been nothing short of fascinating. There were the lo-fi early releases under the name Manitoba; 2001’s ‘Start Breaking My Heart’ and 2003’s ‘Up In Flames’, which were dubbed folktronica thanks to their spindly hybrid of electronic grooves and soothing soundscapes. The following decade provided his two most commercially-successful and critically-acclaimed records under the name Caribou; 2010’s ‘Swim’ and technicolor-triumph, ‘Our Love’ in 2014, which landed him headline spots at endless hipster festivals. In recent years, he’s dedicated his time to dancefloor bangers via his Daphni moniker, including last summer’s ‘Sizzling’ EP, which was full of house-led heaters.

So despite this new album’s title, it’s clear that the Canadian’s producer’s rise has been anything but immediate. In the two-decade long journey to ‘Suddenly’ – his seventh studio album under the Caribou name – Snaith has carefully plotted out a course that’s seen him regarded as one of dance music’s most respected and prolific statesmen. His songwriting has become more open as life moves on and the tunes more euphoric as the live shows grow larger and more ravey.

In a recent interview with Esquire, Snaith said the response to last album ‘Our Love’ inspired ‘Suddenly’ to be “weirder and more personal and intimate”. It was knowing that his dedicated audience were locked in for the ride that sent him off into some strange corners. While ‘Our Love’ opened with a soaring pop-anthem (the euphoric ‘Can’t Do Without You’), ‘Suddenly’ starts off on choppy waters – the haunting ‘Sister’ introduces a melancholy aura, while on the wonky ‘You and I’ the bold vocal manipulation sounds like he’s sampling a big night out with The Smurfs. The glitchy piano-led ‘Sunny’s Time’ steers the album’s midsection, as dense textures (‘New Jade’) peter out into soulful highlight ‘Home’.

There are a few unabashed slappers, though. ‘Never Come Back’ is as sentimental as it is  electrifying (“Promise me that you don’t regret it/You and I were together/Even though we both knew better”) and the chopped-up vocals and pile-driving rhythm on ‘Ravi’ is an instant festival anthem. It’s an unsubtle flex to show that few can conjure dancefloor magic as quick and as primal as Snaith.

Your history with Snaith’s catalogue will dictate which elements of ‘Suddenly’ are most intriguing. The more experimental and unsettling elements will reward longtime stans, while recent converts will be just as thrilled with its party-starting exuberance. What’s universally clear, however, is that 20 years into his career, Snaith has found the perfect balance between intimate songwriting and extroverted sonic decisions.


Release date: February 28, 2020

Record label: City Slang