Over a long career arc, electronic producer Dan Snaith took his Caribou project from sunny sample-core to more organic, psyche-tinged creations and beyond. His 2010 album Swim filtered his unique musical perspectives through a fascination with deep house music, and four years later Our Love delivered some of his more intimate and minimal sounds. Sixth studio album Suddenly picks up threads from both of these, pushing the dancefloor-ready style of Swim as well as Snaith's more softly drawn songwriting into colorful and fun new places. In the interim between Caribou studio albums, Snaith has focused on both an expanded, wildly different live configuration of the project and Daphni, a DJ-modelled offshoot of his production work. Suddenly seems informed by a DJ mindset, with Snaith building his songs around a curation of bright samples and unexpected production moves that would fit in a live DJ set. The subdued opener, "Sister," is a spare introduction to the album, clearing the air before "You and I" picks up the pace and sets the tone for the rest of Suddenly. Beginning with live drums and a pulsing two-chord figure, "You and I" feels like a more synth-friendly indie rock song before unexpected electronic rhythms and samples erupt out of nowhere. Tracks like "Ravi" and "Never Come Back" return to the four-on-the-floor house rhythms of Swim, Snaith's falsetto vocals floating amid piano chords, dense percussion, and chopped samples. Throughout the album, Snaith stacks summery samples for the foundations of his wistful tunes. Kindhearted funk and harp samples make up "Home," and a wobbly piano loop on "Sunny's Time" morphs into a barrage of chunky synths, horns, and fragmented rap samples, calling to mind the wildest of Prefuse 73's collage aesthetic. Suddenly is playful and sweet for its entirety. Even as Snaith jealously ponders an ex's new partnership on "Like I Loved You," any rejection or hurt that the song could convey is whisked away by hopeful melodies and endearingly out-of-place guitar noodling. The album continues developing the language that Caribou has been working on for years, branching out from the clubby spirit and melancholic reflection of recent albums for more lighthearted sonic atmospheres.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas