10 years ago around this exact time, I got what I might call a heaping pot of gold from Pitchfork’s year-end list in the form of the album w h o k i l l from tUnE-yArDs. It was a dizzying, vibrant orchard of melodic classic rock and electro-pop, the two stupefying numbers in particular being “Doorstep” and “Wooly Wolly Gong,” respectively.
Now, it’s just a sad fact that since then I haven’t really been able to glean too much awesomeness from that particular website, this ebb in inspiration probably correspondent to their having been bought by the corporation Conde Nast, which also owns The New Yorker, and whose scribes also write with a disconcerting lack of anger and awkwardness. Things hit a nadir a couple years ago when they did their decade-end thing and it was like Lana Del Rey singing about fu**ing on songs that would be too tacky for the occasion of driving to prom, probably.
Something, anyway, gave me the impetus to actually check them out today (probably the fact that I literally have no music journal to look to online whose opinion I’ll trust). In general, as I had expected, the material was very poppy, not much entrenched in genre (at this point I almost have a distaste for “genre-shifting” and wish more artists would go into the studio with a specific vision other than whining about significant others). They had the MIKE album ranked really highly, Disco, a record I’d found passable but a tad disappointing and bland, in parts. That rapper Playboy Carti is basically just a clown spitting this real commercial bullsh** as if he’s trying to get you to hit him with a pancake griddle so he shuts the He** up.
After about five albums or so I was pretty fed up. I did, however, still have this feeling I’d had earlier in the day, like, when 311 is too boisterous and I want something more chill, for winter, et. al., I could use some new music for such an occasion. In my mind I envisioned something textural and silvery, if you will, generally within drone ambient but not as melodic as Emeralds. I think there were a couple albums on my list that might have just about fit the bill but still I was in the mood for finding something new.
This came, ironically, and I guess erroneously, at that, in the form of a revisitation of an album I probably hadn’t listened to in over six years, which would be Caribou’s 2014 career apex of Our Love. Prior to this release, I’d been a generally a fan of Caribou, from his album Swim, but also found that record a bit overly cathartic and disconcerting.
So Caribou is the rare artist whom you want to encounter a successful love relationship, because, or so it seems, what he does in life is inevitably bound to just include so much feeling and vision as applicable to the general commodity of music, that the stimulation and positive reinforcement are just bound to feed his muse. As has been widely documented, he’s kind of a rural motherfu**er, residing way out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, in Central Canada, and making music that, correspondently, blazes an undeniably original path in IDM, with Four Tet probably the nearest parallel, as it were.
Amazingly, as I’d wanted music that was “silvery” (like Andy Stott but less techno-y, kinda), the second track on Our Love and valid album centerpiece is actually called “Silver,” unfurling with this infectious, incessant bassline and these gorgeous, ethereal falsetto vocals. This track is a gem but I must say I found Our Love to be a completely consistent listen, which I better have, seeing as I ranked it #3 of 2014. The title track is awe-inspiring stuff, the other five-minute-plus tune on side A, with this amazingly clever rhythmic wrinkle in the coda of shifting one note of the synth riff half a beat in time, back and forth, alternating bar by bar.
Side B, then, expands our listening experience into further multifarious territory, sort of straddling the bisector of techno (“Julia Brightly”; “Mars”) and electro-pop (the melancholy and sublime “Back Home”), making for an overall record that, if slightly schizophrenic, is certainly a seven-course feast in electronically rendered moods and grooves. What I hadn’t foreseen about it, thought, was just how effectively it would lasso in that spooky vibe of loss and ominousness typically tied in with winter, to complement the gushing, straight-ahead joy of the central anchor, “Silver.”
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