I am not sad that Caribou has been absent for the past few years. Not a bit.
For the record, that doesn't mean that I don't like his music. In fact, I'm glad because Caribou (also known as Daniel V. Snaith) apparently spent his time coming up wiyj "Andorra," an album of psychedelic folkpop that stands way above his past work. It's a magical, almost transcendent little album that never allows you to be bored.
It opens with a swirling, lush little melody, full of bells and twittering flute. "Melody day/what have I done?" Snaith murmurs softly. "Now our hearts are locked up tight again/and when I pray its all begun/and when you smile it melts away again..."
That sound is echoed in "Sandy," which straddles the fence between pastoral pop and psychedelica. And it echoes in the songs that follow: swirling folkpop, languorous indie-rockers, soaring psychedelica, sunny breezy pop melodies, delicate electropop, and ending with the darker, shimmering "Niobe."
"Andorra" is a pretty big departure from Caribou's past work -- he started with jazzy electronica, then dense electro-guitarpop and then the free-form psychedelic dementafolk of "The Milk of Human Kindness." This one sounds more like a 1966 acid trip in a summery meadow -- it's just pure, magical psychedelica, with moments of indie-rock and krautrock thrown in.
It's also his most conventionally poppy work, but that's not a bad thing. While his past works were more about exploration than melody, this one is sheer beauty, with lots of peppy melodies swathed in the instrumentation. "Desiree," for example, is a pretty typical love ballad, but smothered in a cloud of tinkling chimes, jabbing violins and delicate synth.
The music itself is a kaleidoscope of gentle acoustic guitar, strings and expansive keyboard full of chimes, twitters and bubbles. As if that weren't sumptuous enough, Snaith adds on bells, banjo, and a flute that does its best to imitate birdcalls, as well as his own elusively wistful vocals.
"Andorra" is unlike any of Caribou's past work, but it's also the best. Soft, sunny and transcendentally pretty, this is a electronic and psychedelic masterpiece.