Up In Flames by Caribou
Formats: CD (BAY 26CD) Limited Edition Vinyl LP (1,500 copies) (BAY 26V) Limited Edition Clear Vinyl LP (1,000 copies) (BAY 26VX) Limited Edition 2013 Vinyl Reissue LP (BAY 26VC) Digital (BAY 26E)
Release Date: 31 March 2003
PLEASE NOTE: this album was originally released under the name Manitoba, before Dan Snaith was obliged to change his artist name for legal reasons. The original LP and CD of the album were released as Manitoba. The 10th anniversary 2013 vinyl reissue is released under the name Caribou. The special edition double CD Caribou edition can be found here. The UK special edition double CD Manitoba edition can be found here.
If there's one thing Dan Snaith has learnt since his debut album Start Breaking My Heart it's "I don't give a shit about the electronic music scene!"
A bold statement for one whose first album shot him to the top of the electronic pops, but tell us more, young Snaith (he's still only 24). "There's all this lazy, complacent shitty electronic music where everyone uses the same keyboard sounds and shit drum sounds. Fuck that! Electronic music can sound like anything you want it to so why does it all sound the same? People aren't very ambitious. Why be an imitation? Why not try be on some next level shit ? some Brian Wilson / Timbaland type shit?"
Consider these thoughts for a moment as Snaith's incredibly self-confident second album Up In Flames comes a-shimmering out of your stereo. Isn't it... an electronic music album? Very perceptive. In fact, it was made with exactly the same dinky computer equipment as the last album, except he now plays glockenspiel as well as guitar and keyboards.
But wait! It sounds completely, utterly unlike the first one, doesn't it? It 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 organised. When it's sloppy and messy, that's how I like it." Well, that will happen if you spend enough time soaking in albums by My Bloody Valentine, Spaceman 3, Mercury Rev, The Beach Boys, Neutral Milk Hotel and psychedelic rockers like The Byrds and The End.
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.' Yep, you can never have enough melodies. He's also managed to coax his mysterious homey Koushik out of hiding to contribute lead vocals on a couple of tracks. (Not even major labels who've been calling constantly since he put out a limited edition 7" on Kieran Hebden's Text label in 2001 have been able to track him down, although further 7"s for several labels are rumoured.) "I literally think Ko is a genius," Dan says, point blank. "I know that if Ko does something, I'll like it. I totally trust him, he knows everything about music."
Why settle for less when you can have more than you ever thought possible? He's onto something, don't you agree?
1. I've Lived On A Dirt Road All My Life
3. Hendrix With Ko
5. Why The Long Face
8. Kid You'll Move Mountains
10. Every Time She Turns Round It's Her Birthday REVIEWS
All Music Guide
Pitchfork's Top 200 Albums Of The 2000s OTHER