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Swim

Caribou
MERGE

Caribou (not the veteran Louisville cover band, but the nom de synth of Canadian Daniel Snaith) creates electronica just a shade too up-tempo to be called ambient, but too insular for the dance floor. It’s an intriguing paradox, but Swim is too often content to spin its wheels, repeating musical phrases ad nauseam without ever really building on them. It’s hardly a complete dud: The straightforward synth-pop of “Kaili” and “Leave House” displays a refreshing urgency and forward motion sorely lacking from the other songs, while the hypnotic undertow of “Bowls” lurks menacingly like classic ESG. But Swim is continually neither fish nor fowl, hovering uncomfortably between rhythm and texture, between songcraft and ambient soundscapes. In Caribou’s hands, these qualities are ingredients for a fascinating stew, but they need to be better integrated for his music to truly be successful.