Written during an overly chaotic period in his personal life, Suddenly is like The Life Of Pablo for the introverts: while jam-packed with classic Caribou colour and flair, it’s also an extremely emotional and disjointed feeling release. Every song constantly jolts between sounds and ideas like a manic sketchpad of sorts, with Snaith confessing he adopted a much more laissez faire approach to crafting the LP.
“Our Love had quite a coherent sound. It was probably the most polished, concise, maybe pop conception of my music without comprising anything too much,” Snaith says. “With this record, I didn’t think I could push that idea any further in that direction, so I’m did the opposite and let the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies about the way I make music flow and just emphasise those things.”
In that sense, Suddenly could be one of the most scatterbrained projects of the year. One minute Snaith is dropping dancefloor ready stompers like ‘Never Come Back’ and ‘Ravi’, the next he’s channeling Madlib or the RZA to create chopped and slopped hip-hop on ‘Sunny’s Time’ and ‘New Jade’. Modular synths pepper various tracks across its run time, he refers to ‘Like I Love You’ as his ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers ballad’, and the unadulterated Gloria Barnes sample that surges through ‘Home’ might just make for the most unpredictable Caribou moment to date.
“There’s tracks that are inspired by exciting production ideas in contemporary pop, rap and RnB, but there’s still lots of weird avant-grade ideas being filtered through that lens,” Snaith says.” There’s ideas that engage with where pop music is right now with my weird take on it.
“I’ve made a lot of albums that reference the past, but on Suddenly I realised that I wanted to engage with the music right now – not that I’m chasing trends or anything like that. But when I hear something exciting that’s resonating in our culture, that’s exciting to me, and I really want to contribute to that.”
It’s not just the music of Suddenly that makes it an intense listening experience. Suddenly is easily Snaith’s most lyrical album to date: instead of being buried in textures, Snaith’s voice is mixed to the forefront for the entirety of the record as he attempts to come to terms with the calamities that befell those around him.
“I had a lot more to say this time around,” Snaith acknowledges, explaining that the title of the record hints to both these events and the jagged sonic vessels that carry their stories. “In the last five years of my life, there’s been a lot of quite tragic, dislocating events that came out of the blue and changed everything in an instant. I hadn’t experienced like that in my life before: there were all these things I wasn’t planning for, and my musical life is intertwined with that. I can’t be in the midst of those things and then go and write something whimsical and made up and unrelated.”
Despite this turmoil, Suddenly never delves into darkened territory. The ruddy glow you’d expect to find in a Caribou record still imbues the project in its full – album highlight ‘Ravi’ gleams like light upon water, while early singles ‘You and I’ and ‘Home’ blanket the listener in a comforting warmth. Snaith says that he finds it reassuring to listen back to the album and hear such a glowing response to the events that affected his loved ones so deeply.
“When I listen back to this record, even with all those difficult things that happened, I hear a comforting, warm and positive response to them. The things that are happening didn’t happen directly to me,” he stresses.
“I was usually the person there around those people being reassuring and comforting. But it’s also there in the music because the music is doing that for me. Even if I’m not the central character in these events, they still took an emotional toll on me, and being able to process that and filter it through a lens to get through those emotions out. This music is like a journal or photo album. I like that it’s there alongside my life in the same place and time: it makes sense to me.”
As introspective as he may be, it’s clear that Snaith has never let any ulterior motives cloud the way he approaches his craft. Save for the music, it almost seems that Snaith has no other professional ambitions – he tells me that in his 20 year career he’s never had a manager, he and his band still set up their equipment onstage at every show, and he’s even managed to stay on the same independent label he first released music on all those years ago. It’s rare for an artist to have achieved what he has without such compromise, and although he’s incredibly conscious of it, he’s ultimately satisfied and vocally grateful to have gotten to that position without any sort of mission statement.
“The whole progression of my musical career over twenty years has been crazy, and I feel so fortunate that I’m doing it at all,” Snaith gushes. “The whole sense about how its evolved is that I haven’t had a plan ever. I just follow what I love about music and what’s exciting and whats feels like a good thing to do, and staying close with the friends and other musicians that are doing interesting things. I’ve never had a manager – I manage myself, and everything has just kind of happened. Not because I was reaching for those things and being ambitious or goal orientated, they’ve kind of just fallen into place.
“That probably speaks to some degree of privilege and good fortune, but my whole thing has been to not feel like I should make a plan or have a list of things I want to tick off. I just feel so satisfied with where I’m at and what I’ve done, and watch things unfold as a result of the music rather than letting the ambition for where it can go drive the whole process. I want people to see what we’re doing and that with a bit of luck and hard work I can be in that same place rather than making it seem unrealisable.”
Suddenly arrives via City Slang/Inertia on Friday February 28.