Caribou - The Milk Of Human Kindness
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Caribou
The Milk Of Human Kindness

A little over a year after Up In Flames, Dan Snaith found himself in a rather odd predicament in that he was being sued by a former punk rocker (how's that for punk rock?) named Handsome Dick Manitoba over trademark infringement. Rather than put up a legal fight and risk losing, Snaith simply decided to not make things into a bigger deal than they needed to be and instead changed his nom de rock to Caribou.

Recording under the name Manitoba, Snaith never seemed to sit in one place for long, opening his recording career with the melodic electronics of Stop Breaking My Heart before tackling everything from tweaked two-step (If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be an Airport EP) and finally completely busting loose with the aforementioned Up In Flames. For those expecting him to keep doing anything the same, prepare to again be surprised, as The Milk Of Human Kindness takes little bits from a whole slew of genres and throws them all in the mixer for an album of tracks that at times feels more like the mix tape of a hipster than a cohesive album.

With eleven tracks running almost exactly forty minutes, the album veers wildly, opening with the harmonized vocals and layers of melodies of "Yeti" (which might be the closest thing to his previous release of anything on here) to the krauty, spaced-out jamming of "A Final Warning." At seven minutes long, the latter track is easily the longest on the album, but it rolls by in a whirlwind of processed vocals, subtle beats, and swirling melodies that make you wish it was even longer. From there, the album riffs on instrumental old-school hip hop with "Lord Leopard" (one of many short tracks on the release that feel more like sketches than anything else) and even a loop-based track that has a touch of country ("Bees").

Elsewhere, Snaith again cranks up the rumbling rhythms, and "Brahiminy Kite" drops as one of the best tracks on the release as over-compressed drums tumble headlong with light vocals and rushing keyboard melodies for an infectious track that begs singing along and ass-shaking at the same time. As mentioned above, it's almost as if The Milk Of Human Kindness has been constructed as sort of an ode to all of the music that Snaith loves. On first listen, it's not as immediately accessible as Up In Flames, and despite a couple tracks that don't quite hit the mark, it's a release that reveals itself in several listens and contains yet another batch of fearless tracks from an artist who simply refuses to sit still. At this point, you never quite know what you're going to get from a Caribou (Manitoba) release, and in this age of practically pre-packaged music, that's a relief.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2005-05-05 00:00:00