Combining old school pop-rock with lush, modern electronica, Dan Snaith shows off serious mixing prowess. While Andorra is greatly complicated by digital effects, it maintains a throwback softness throughout.
Andorra, overall, has a vibe of shag-carpeted basement complete with beads in the doorway. That basement might be in 1960’s San Francisco or 2000’s Amsterdam, though. The album begins abruptly with a snapping snare drum and soft vocals that recall the mod rock groups a generation ago. But where those bands left off, Caribou adds in a swirl of sounds and more complex rhythms. That snare explodes into a flourish while Snaith’s vocals sail on a whispered strain. "Melody Day" finishes by going back and forth through flurries and tranquility. It even fades out then crashes back in, just to mess with the listener. "Sandy" is a more flower-powered track with hazy vocals, rambling electric guitars, and a semi-bongo beat. "After Hours" is a thumping psych-jam that features acid-laced electronic wisps and a pattering drum track. These tracks set the develop atmosphere early and often.
It doesn’t get any less complex from there. Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys adds vocals to "She’s The One", a sweeping serenade that isn’t particularly electronic, but has a plastic feel. Then "Desiree" changes up the progression immensely with a gorgeous, string-laced melody that has no particular beat, just a swooning rhythm. "Eli" takes Andorra back to the 60’s pop/rock scene, but once again, with arrangements that would make any producer in that era wet themselves. "Sundialing" rolls over a modest, head-bobbing beat that recalls past Caribou/Manitoba beats the most, while adding in washed digital effects, and even a flute. "Irene" is a quiet, but distorted, electronic track that resembles the after-effects of a late-night, post-modern meltdown. "Niobe" is the nine-minute closer that keeps "Irene" going, but more distant and bewitching. It’s a long and haunting trip, but worth every minute.
Andorra is a wonderful record for the collection of work building in Dan Snaith’s name. He’s claimed a niche in between the ever-expanding indie -electronic and -rock worlds as an amazingly agile producer of uncommonly complicated sounds. In several ways, Andorra is the ultimate crossover.