Album Review: Caribou - Suddenly

This album is a tad bit backwards. Most albums tend to have a stronger opening and first half, before tailing off in the middle and perhaps having a bigger closer. This record does the opposite; almost nothing happens in the first half, but the back end of the album is excellent before it closes in a slightly boring and overlong way.

If you want to just chill to some background sounds, look no further. Whether it's the almost Kraftwerk-esque analogue sounds on opener 'Sister', the poppy 'New Jade' or the fun 'Lime', it's a record which you don't really need to pay much attention to. I certainly didn't on the second go, as I frantically discussed last night's Doctor Who finale with fellow enthusiasts as the album buzzed in my ears. It wasn't distracting, it was just there, which isn't necessarily a bad thing given the type of music we're talking about here. Imagine the aforementioned Kraftwerk, but with much less going on.

'Home' is easily the highlight of the album's opening half, with some funky guitar work complimented by an array of samples brought together to create a short but sweet tune. 'Like I Loved You', simply a modern pop track with some more cool guitars, and the ethereal 'Magpie', both also stand out. But Suddenly's strongest moments are undoubtedly 'Never Come Back' and 'Ravi', both of which are clearly influenced by '90s House and Dance music. Bouncy, energetic and featuring some excellent uses of vocal samples, both tracks add a dose of life to a record that often lapses into bland nothingness.

The closing 'Cloud Song' lives up to its title, as my brain imagined a trip through the clouds and found this to be a fitting piece for that journey, but at six minutes long, its slow pace and repetitive sounds slightly outstay their welcome. Following its conclusion, it took me about two more minutes of Doctor Who finale talk to actually realise there was nothing in my ears anymore. I'd blanked it out, managed to forget it was there despite it being pumped directly into my head via headphones.

It's this lack of consistency that makes this record so difficult to judge. It's like a football team that gets promoted one season and relegated the next on an endless loop, bouncing from looking great to struggling to compete. Caribou shows what he can do in the album's second half, whereas the first half feels a bit phoned-in.

This makes it very difficult to rate the album. Its highs are high indeed, but its lows utterly forgettable. As a reviewer who likes to err on the side of positivity, I'll give Suddenly the benefit of the doubt and be slightly generous with the rating. It's a decent record, prone to instances of blandness but with moments of genuine quality. It's up and down but does the job, like an elevator. It's an adequate effort which ticks all of the main boxes but chooses to add none of the optional extras. Insert some more metaphors about averageness here. You get the idea.