Caribou Suddenly City Slang
The title of Caribou’s seventh record came from his youngest daughter, who became obsessed with the word during infancy. In many ways, it’s the perfect choice. Because Suddenly is, essentially, a record about family and domesticity. The opening track, Sister, features a sample of Snaith’s mother singing a nursery rhyme to his sister when she was a baby. Then there’s the warm glow of Home, the first single, on which a Gloria Barnes sample is used to create a gorgeous, lived-in vintage soul track.
The album’s title works in another, more literal sense too. Suddenly is laden with songs which begin one way and then shift, as if Snaith is trying to make sense of, or even replicate, the challenges that life throws at you. This has personal resonance, as Snaith has disclosed that this record is about an unexpected change that occurred, out of the blue. You and I captures him in a state of mourning, lamenting over a motorik beat that, “now you’ve gone and I’m out here waiting”. When the track’s chorus erupts, augmented with a sample and a devastating lyric (“You can take your place up in the sky,”) the emotional sucker punch is complete.
Of course, Snaith’s work has always been based on personal connection – Swim and Our Love took themes of divorce and loneliness and cut them into bright, danceable shapes. But the intervening five years since Our Love provide a different emotional tenor on Suddenly. For the first time Snaith sings on every track, heightening the connection between artist and listener to stunning effect. Crucially, Snaith’s meticulous attention to detail remains. The warped, pitch-shifting piano line of Sunny’s Time is interrupted by a chopped-up sample before ending like a mangled cassette in an old stereo. Like I Loved You appears to slowly stretch out the notes until they’re so distorted they fall apart. Those seeking classic Caribou signifiers will be rewarded, too: Ravi is Snaith at his most glistening and euphoric while Never Come Back is a true arms-in-the-air floorfiller.
Ending with the yearning beauty of Cloud Song (featuring the heartbreaking lyric “If you love me come hold me now”), Suddenly charts the emotional fallout that occurs when life truly sideswipes you. A record where Snaith has laid himself bare. The result is his richest, strangest album yet.