What a pleasure it is to arrive at the sixth album from an artist to find them at the peak of their music-making abilities. Press play on Our Love and that sentiment is obvious. Studious Dan Snaith (Ph.D) has been on the up since he appeared as Manitoba in 2001.
The Canadian musician has emitted some of the best music of whatever year he has released, whether it was lush psychedelia, vaporous pop or more increasingly, electronica, through the last two Caribou albums Swim and Andorra, and more obviously his dance project Daphni (his seventh studio record).
Take ‘Can’t Do Without You’, the opening track, the song of the summer, and probably year. Built on a simple vocal line of the title, a lo-fi beat and four chord loop, it erupts dynamically into stereo polychromatic psychedelia. It still hasn’t got old.
While much of the rest of the album isn’t as anthemic, Snaith revels in the warm sonic palette he creates, creating sonic magic from off-kilter passages that sound like no-one else.
R&B influences are more prominent than initially suggested. ‘Silver’ gurgles its synths with a female vocal sample cut short while Snaith’s sweet wistful vocals deliver an R&B sentiment about getting over a girl but explodes in a release of high and mighty synth notes. ‘All I Ever Need’ pairs a rumbling percussive stomp, a house melody (closer ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’ is very close in tonality to it) and a similar sentiment , with that dynamic shift coming from synths that swell like strings (thanks to Owen Pallett), while Jessy Lanza represents the feminine with a real R&B vocal over shimmering synth notes. Suddenly, you can hear what Mariah Carey doing psychedelic R&B would sound like.
But it’s the lessons he’s learned in front of crowds at festivals and DJ afterparties that run through the whole of Our Love. Vocals snippets inspired by house rush through the warm organ rise and fall of the too-short ‘Julie Brightly’, while ‘Mars’ is a jilted flute loop that bursts the dance fever dream haze and maybe, features a Missy Elliott sample. The title track does a similar trick with ‘Good Life’ referencing rave synths and a garage beat.
Snaith’s psychedelic imprint and swells of emotion covers everything, through his falsetto and his preference for nostalgic-faced melodies. His lyrics add to the tenderness, chiefly concerned with a slipping, fading love, yet he offers us, and himself, solace in every other way.
On Our Love, Snaith is now fully immersed in the world of the nightclub but he wears his heart on his turntable. That doesn’t mean that there’s an dumbing down or mindlessness. There is a simplicity to a lot of the tracks that, only comes from putting in the long hours. Snaith’s love of his craft continues to shine. If anything, he’s has just better at making things sound larger with less.
Our Love is out now on City Slang.