Wild Mercury Sound

Caribou, Richard & Linda, Super Furry Animals, Robert Wyatt and a weekend ignoring Glasto

John Mulvey

Just having a look through your recent comments while i wait for the troops to make it back from Glastonbury and Knowsley Hall. Thanks, as ever, for your comments; even Madison, who appears to have spammed the recent Richard And Linda Thompsonthread with a hunk of WB Yeats. Cheers for that.

Some superfans grappling with the tracklisting of that "new" Richard and Linda live album there, interestingly. Meanwhile, Rhysi has responded to my slightly conflicted Super Furry Animals preview. "They'll be transcending expectations with the other two albums they're working on," he writes. "I thought Gruff described Hey Venus! as 'middle of the road' compared to the other two...they'll never be middle of the road though will they, not even if they tried very very hard?"

Super Furry Animals were actually the only thing I saw over a weekend of scrupulously avoiding the BBC's Glastonbury coverage, when they played a sweet version of "Northern Lites" in, according to Gruff, the style of Big Star.

Instead I went on a bit of a Robert Wyatt binge, particularly, as ever, "Rock Bottom", then came back to 2007 with the new Caribou album.

When Dan Snaith worked as Manitoba rather than Caribou, I was really taken with his "Up In Flames" album: it mapped out a kind of post-electronica course for the rearing psychedelic music of Mercury Rev and their ilk, I thought. Since he changed his name, though, Snaith has swerved away from that path a little.

"Andorra", his new one, is essentially a lavish and radically improved version of the formula he started on "The Milk Of Human Kindness". Rather than spinning off from the cosmic American model, this Canadian's starting point nowadays is the more baroque, chamber end of psych: The Left Banke, maybe, and definitely lots of The Zombies. "Desiree", or at least its middle passage, could have been lifted straight from "Odessey & Oracle". Its beginning, though, is kin to Dennis Wilson's "Lady", while its ending is a spangly deconstruction of the melody, reiterating Snaith's kinship with some of the cannier electronic artists like Four Tet.

Snaith's voice is no match for Colin Blunstone or a Wilson, unfortunately, and some of his slightly limpid contributions detract from the excellence of these songs, and the inventive, organic/processed productions. It's an immensely pretty album; listening to it is like admiring very intricate and elegant scenes through a thick heat-haze. Snaith has a really gushing way with a tune, as on the opening "Melody Day" (playing on Caribou's Myspace) and on the gorgeous, languid "She's The One", a duet with Jeremy Greenspan of the (somewhat overrated, I reckon) Junior Boys.

He's got a really good balance between melody, atmosphere and gentle experimentation here, I think, which makes "Andorra" one of those albums which is very easy to listen to, but also one which slowly reveals itself as being built out of countless subtle, filigree textures. "Niobe" is some airy hybrid of '60s chamber psych and My Bloody Valentine that evolves into these great acid peaks. It's great.


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