Dan Snaith is not the kind of artist who likes to take an idea and stick with it until he runs out of gas. Throughout his decade-long career under the name Manitoba and now Caribou, his output has retained the same inner core of hooky melodicism and sonic experimentation, but he’s hopped from sound to sound on each release. The album previous to 2010’s Swim, Andorra, won him the most praise he had seen to date with a richly layered sound that added elements of 1960s British psych and folk to some tightly structured and memorable songs. Swim takes the seemingly illogical step of stripping away most of the layers, stretching the songs out, and leaving the stuffy '60s sitting room for a glittering, pulsating dancefloor. Not that he’s completely left behind the Andorra sound; there are moments, like on the chorus of "Kaili," where it is obvious you are listening to a record by someone who has a deep knowledge of Wimple Winch B-sides. What becomes clear after the first listen or two though is that Swim combines all the elements of Caribou’s past (the left-field IDM of Start Breaking My Heart, the shimmering neo-shoegaze of Up in Flames, the spare Krautrock on Milk of Human Kindness, and the songcraft of Andorra) into a compelling batch of songs that sound good over headphones and might even work better in a club full of discerning dancers. The arrangements are predictably inventive and suitably thoughtful, with plenty of odd sounds and an interesting juxtaposition of instruments, but there’s a slinky groove underpinning the bulk of the record that will get feet moving. The funky, late-night groover "Odessa" could be a hit too in some magical land where dance music fans reward sincerely weird songs with chart success. So could "Leave House," a super-catchy dance-pop track that sounds like a classic Hot Chip jam, all rubbery bass and surprisingly forceful pop-soul vocals. The rest of the album is filled with quietly stunning songs that are dazzling on the surface, but also reward close listening. So even though you could call this move toward the dancefloor a surprise, Swim retains all the qualities that make Snaith and Caribou so impressive. It just dresses them up for a night out at the club; no, make that a great night out at the club.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra