Like Owen Pallett, Caribou is a tough case to make for winning the $20,000 and recognition that come with being awarded the Polaris Prize.
There are two similarities I can see in Owen Pallett and Caribou, both on the Polaris short list this year. First, both men have already won the Polaris Prize in 2006 and 2008, respectively. Second, they have both made probably the most inventive and groundbreaking albums of the whole shortlist.
Swim is the follow-up to Caribou, a.k.a. Dan Snaith’s 2008 Polaris-winning album Andorra. Having never heard Caribou before, I picked up Swim to listen to and was absolutely blown away.
Much like the album name implies, Swim is very fluid. Each song melts into the next with effortlessness. Not one element of the album’s nine songs seems contrived, from the insanely catchy electronics in “Odessa” to the endless repetition of the song’s title in “Sun.”
Besides the fluidity of the music, there is also a lot of uniqueness and innovation in the lush and ambient electronic atmosphere of the music. I remember hearing “Found Out” for the first time and thinking the music was glitching, as Snaith’s vocals seem to repeat themselves. Turns out that was the way the song was supposed to be and my mind was effectively blown.
I should also mention that Swim is probably the only album on the Polaris short list that one would be able to dance to (Radio Radio may also fit into this category- that remains to be seen). “Kaili,” “Odessa” and “Leave House” are all great examples of this. Also, Luke Lalonde from Born Ruffians actually sings on the last track, “Jamelia.”
And once again, I would like to say that someone winning a prize once previously should not in any way disqualify them from winning again. As was brought up in another great article about Caribou, not letting artists win more than once would undermine the whole credibility of the Polaris Prize. After all, who says one act can’t make the best album in Canada more than once?
In short, Dan Snaith has changed the way I have looked at electronica, just as he probably has done to many others who picked up Andorra or Swim. And this innovation is exactly why he should win.