Think of it like this: You’re in a lush public park under a pastel, cirrus-streaked sky, the grass serrating the horizon with sun-cut clarity. There’s a game of tug-of-war happening, with you acting as the audience. On your left are the dream-lathered popscapes of 4AD records, and on your right, the gorgeous fuzz-melody atonality of Creation Records’ shoegazing arm. The rope binding the two, the rope being tugged back and forth by both, is the enthusiastic clattering of mid-sixties psychedelic pop.
That’s the first round of imagery that comes into the adjective-pumped referential mind upon an introductory hearing of Caribou’s (a.k.a. Daniel Snaith, a.k.a. Manitoba — it’s a long story, go ask Handsome Dick) newest round of winding, Technicolor electro-pop, Andorra. As hyperbolic a chamber as that first paragraph might be — and it is — it’s also an accurate representation of Caribou’s breathlessly referential, pastiched surveys through the past forty years of pop noise. Snaith’s music is not moored to any bedrock sound of his own; rather, his sound is one of appropriation. If he were a lesser artist, his albums would be the kind of trendy and hollow kitchen-sink farrago released in the wake of Beck and Blur’s late-nineties masterpieces of sampling and dense sonic collage, Odelay and Blur; instead, Andorra often attains a level of theft and beauty (or beautiful theft, if you prefer) that Hanson and Albarn have only sporadically hit upon since the sea last changed for them both.
Opener “Melody Day” offers itself as the embodiment of all things Andorra: a swirling and up-tempo percussive blast of summertime psychedelia, with Snaith’s breathy vocals roller-coasting slowly upward before making lovely kamikaze swoons into choruses of explosive, intertwined keyboard and guitar jamming. When linked to the album’s remaining tracks — from the insistent electronica pulse of “Sundialing” to the reserved, boom-box speaker-buzz ambience of “Niobe” — the music mandelbrotts into a swirling fractal of kaleidoscopic summer backdrops. Although such swaths of varied, nebulous beauty obscure Snaith’s musical core — if there is one — the music is so joyful in its rag and bone cherry-picking of the best of Britpop’s history that such concerns are rendered pointless. When the music’s this good, it’s best just to shut up and listen.