Caribou Up In Flames on LP + CD
Dan Snaith is a Canadian musician now based in London, who has recorded as Manitoba, Caribou and Daphni. Snaith initially recorded under the name Manitoba, but changed to Caribou in 2004 under threat of a lawsuit by Richard "Handsome Dick" Manitoba, formerly of punk band The Dictators. It's hard to believe it's been almost 15 years since Snaith released his first album as Manitoba back in the spring of 2001. April 2013 marked the 10th anniversary of his breakthrough album Up in Flames, still the biggest selling album in The Leaf Label's history.
As a result of the aforementioned well-documented lawsuit, Snaith was obliged to change his artist name to Caribou, which was first used for the release of 2005's The Milk of Human Kindness. Start Breaking My Heart and Up in Flames are now available under the Caribou name, with fully restored album artwork. Each of the three Manitoba/Caribou albums is highly distinctive. Start Breaking My Heart (2001) rivaled the likes of Boards of Canada for exquisite melodies and a yearning sense of nostalgia, while the critical and commercial leap forward of Up In Flames (2003) was like being unleashed in an unparalleled, magical fairyland of riotous, ecstatic sound.
Up In Flames sounds like a magnificent kaleidoscopic rough'n'tumble of starlight melodies, irresistibly catchy fatbeats and all manner of uplifting tooting, parping, plinking, riffing, tinkling, soaring and harping, the joyous mass gliding happily together within Snaith's masterful sense of space. Plus...handclaps, alarm clocks, crickets chirping and dogs barking. There's a lot in there, but it's never cluttered, it's deft and wise and funny and gobsmackingly brilliant all at once.
The other point is that Dan writes actual songs, not just a bunch of sounds strung together in ProTools. In Dan's words, he wanted to make an album of "wicked pop songs with textures, layers and weird instruments. I make music totally by ear, just by fucking around and experimenting. It couldn't be less systematic and organized. When it's sloppy and messy, that's how I like it." That's also Dan singing on Up In Flames, though don't be thinking he's gone all singer/songwriter. "It's more about the textures, adding something different. And more melodies." He also managed to coax his mysterious homey Koushik out of hiding to contribute lead vocals on a couple of tracks.