Caribou's Andorra Channels the Summer of Love
1967 was 40 years ago, but judging from the way Rolling Stone deified it this anniversary Summer, you'd think it occurred during the Renaissance. You know the tired spiel. "LSD! Hippies! The Beatles! Vietnam! The Monkees! We changed the world, man....One Toke at a Time" Right? Wrong. The myth that hippies changed the world is like the Tibetan myth of the Yeti. Both were very created by people that were very very high.
But for all the stoned hippie blather and contrived mythology, 1967 did produce some great music: The Doors' first record, Younger than Yesterday, Surrealistic Pillow, The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Grateful Dead, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Are You Experienced, Something Else by the Kinks, Disraeli Gears, Forever Changes, The Who Sell Out, and yeah, that Pepper Club Band thing. It almost makes you want to be an ex-hippy with a graying ponytail, an "organic foods," fixation, an "eco-friendly" business approach and the nickname Munchie (or Seth).
Dan Snaith, the mastermind behind Caribou does not seem like a hippie. He has short hair, a Mathematics PhD and he's from Canada. Canada doesn't have hippies they have elk (and probably caribou). But sonically, Snaith updates the sound of '67, creating songs as blindingly bright as the album cover's yellow tulips, producing nine lush tracks, ideal for the sun-scorched summer.
Do These Caribou Know How to Party or What?Unlike most psychedelic rock, a palpable sadness permeates Andorra, in a way that reminds me of Forever Changes in its sense of loss and uncertainty. Andorra is a break-up record, a stumble through a tragic world filled with clouds of swirling rainbow smoke. A love-lorn Snaith devotes half the songs to girls with matronly names like, "Melody Day," "Sandi,""Desiree" and "Irene." The latter song being largely an instrumental with a few lyrics that describe the peril of dating a woman with an unattractive name like Irene. (The B-Side, "Gertrude." is even more brutal.")
Like Milk of Human Kindness and Up in Flames (recorded under the Manitoba moniker), Andorra is drugged, disoriented and ultimately dazzling. While it may not fully stack up against the best stuff made 40 years ago, it's certainly close. And even if it doesn't receive instant canonization (because it's not part of "the revolution, man,") it remains a powerful and beautiful work of art. The ideal soundtrack for the thinking man's stoner after he's just lost his woman (or his bong).
MP3: Caribou-"Melody Day"
from Milk of Human Kindness