Caribou, Andorra

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Canadian producer Dan Snaith’s first record demonstrates that his sound was all his from the get-go.

Dan Snaith, the Canadian producer who records as Caribou (and formerly as Manitoba, the name under which this album was originally issued), didn't begin to receive full recognition for his work until his second album, 2003's Up in Flames. But one listen to Start Breaking My Heart, his 2001 debut, demonstrates that his sound was all his from the get-go. It's spongier and less deliberately hazy than his later work, but not by much: the keyboards are denser than on Flames or 2007's Andorra, and Snaith's touch at the mixing board is only slightly more tentative. Golden light seems to pour out of the grooves at times, like the sun poking out from beneath clouds, as with the high telephone tones breaking up intricate finger-picked acoustic guitar on “Children Play Well Together.” Snaith was also good early on at getting the feel as well as the instrumentation of jazz right: “Mammals Vs. Reptiles” cuts up standard small-combo playing (double bass, ride cymbals keeping time, horns in various states of wail) until it's as abstracted as a standard taken a special degree “out,” yet still as legible as it is free, an effect carried through on tracks like “Anna and Nina,” one of a heaping 20 bonus cuts added to the original 10-song configuration. Simon Reynolds once called this kind of stuff “idylltronica,” and the best parts of Start Breaking My Heart are as idyllic as it gets.