In a year and a half at college, I’ve drunkenly danced more than I care to admit. Lost amid a party’s mass of bodies and bass and cheap vodka is the realization that a lot of this music I’m dancing to isn’t all that happy. Whether it’s the airy sadness that pervades some of Disclosure’s music or the new, dancier Arcade Fire that ‒ as far as “dance music” goes ‒ is pretty serious. Even R&B as weighty as FKA twigs’ new album is occasionally put on a playlist and declared dance music.
The new album from Caribou certainly joins that lineup of “emotional dance music” ‒ a genre that seems to expand as indie R&B grows more popular and the moniker of “EDM” grows more versatile. And Caribou ‒ the stage name of Dan Snaith (previously of Manitoba and Daphni) ‒ has earned its place on dance floors. It’s smart music with great beats and a generally lovely sound to it. Not only that, but this album packs real feeling behind it. It’s hard not to get swept up in the scope of emotion accompanying “Can’t Do Without You”’s lovely final minute. Moments like that are all over this record, many of which take a little while to reveal themselves.
While Our Love probably doesn’t reach the heights of 2010’s Swim, an album that’s mostly loved but still somehow not appreciated enough, this new album is really trying out an entirely new sound for Snaith. Swim really did some interesting things and was a fascinating melding of psychedelia with EDM. It has bizarre little elements that you keep coming back to. Our Love is less experimental and a little softer. It’s much more pristine than Swim (free, sadly, of anything as delightfully busy and herky-jerky as “Hannibal”) but will probably work better for people who enjoyed Swim’s softer, more sprawling moments. Most of all, this is an album that’s incredibly timely and entirely in step with the style of music of the day. With that said, Snaith isn’t just another guy making electronic music. He has impeccable instincts and an open mind: two key attributes for a great electronic artist.