Real big fish
Caribou makes a sizeable splash with Swim.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 07.08.10
When I reach Dan Snaith—the man behind indie-folk-tronic project Caribou—on his cell phone, he’s in Europe, traveling with his band. They’ve just crossed the border from the Czech Republic after a show in Prague and are heading to Austria to perform in Vienna. “We’ve just been to Russia and Poland, and we’re going to the former Yugoslavia in the next couple days,” Snaith says. “Before coming to [Chicago], we’re going to China, Korea and Japan.”
Waist deep in a world tour for his new album, Swim, Snaith—who records solo but tours with a band—headlined Millennium Park back in July and is now back again to headline Metro on Sunday, September 26. The LP, Snaith’s fifth, sees him broadening his sonic palette from the ’60s pop, psychedelia and krautrock that were clear reference points on 2007’s critically adored Andorra and reining in the post-electronic indie sounds of his earlier records.
“It collects everything I’ve thought about or done before and then adds something new,” says the 31-year-old multi-instrumentalist. The newness Snaith refers to comes from the record’s heavier dance vibe. Though it’s not a club record by any means, the techno and breaks rhythms that Snaith pairs with his intricate song structures and moody pop melodies lend it increased appeal. The crowds at his shows have taken note; he says attendance is better than ever.
Given Swim’s shift in sound, it still represents Caribou well. “The liquidity concept was a big part of that,” Snaith explains. “The expectation of dance music is that it is very rigid, metallic sounding and crisp. I like the idea of everything floating around in an ethereal way but still with rhythmic elements referencing dance music.” Feeling as if he’d done all there was to do with his rock influences, but still wanting to keep his songwriting aesthetic, Snaith turned to the challenge of giving dance music the emotional resonance that makes his previous work so memorable.