With each release, Dan Snaith, the man behind Caribou, becomes more accessible and more complex, as if running away from pop has only gotten him closer to the other end of its spectrum.
There were pronounced electronics on his jagged glitch-hop debut, "Start Breaking My Heart," while its follow-up, "Up in Flames," carried these flourishes into something bigger and warmer.
On "Andorra," Snaith finally seems to get the whole songwriter thing.
His gift for aching melody has always been present, but here it flows into great choruses and among tight structures, surfacing above a cloud of layered, ringing guitars, echoing vocals, wall-to-wall percussion, flute, glockenspiel - all supplied by Snaith. It's trippy, all right, but not to the point of losing anyone. By the time of "Sundialing," it's clear "Andorra" is no joke: Snaith is capable of keeping his attention - and craft - focused for an entire sitting.
- Michael Pollock, MCT
"Under the Blacklight" Warner Bros.
With its fourth album, Rilo Kiley has matured happily, making a record that covers the genre-crossing map with ease.
"15" and "Smoke Detector" take the subtle raciness of 1960s sock hop rock and blow it up with a twanging confidence. "Dejalo" is a fair attempt at getting a little world music into the already across-the-board styles, but mostly sticks out for its ability to put a disco bass line into that mix.
All this is tied together by Jenny Lewis' country-hinting vocals, which along with a keener focus on the band's rhythm section give Rilo Kiley a complexity that most younger indie darlings just can't manage.
- Margaret Hair, 4 Points
"La Radiolina" Nacional/Because
Manu Chao's gift is to make his multicultural melange sound effortless and joyful. "La Radiolina" is the long-overdue studio follow-up and a worthy sequel to 2001's vivacious "Proxima Estacion: Esperanza."
Multilingual and pan-global, "Radiolina's" kinetic, politically charged songs build on Jamaican reggae and ska, North African rai and Anglo-American punk rock, but touch on all sorts of other styles.
- Steve Klinge, MCT
"The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band" Merge
Fizzy odd pop done with righteous infectious frenzy
is Imperial Teen's metier.
Even if its members aren't exactly teens (the CD's title refers to what the seasoned quartet has been up to since its last record), they're sounding like overgrown kids, imperial ones at that. Yet they never extend themselves to trend or fancy.
The results are party-ballers like "Sweet Potato" and "Shim Sham," with girl/boy harmonies and dippy rhythmic kicks.
- A.D. Amorosi, MCT
"From the Corner to the Block"
With guest spots from Gift of Gab and Lyrics Born, and a keen eye on meshing everything you can dance to (hip hop, electronic, funk, etc) into a big party-ready mix, Galactic's "From the Corner to the Block" covers a lot of ground.
There's the anthem "I Got (What You Need)." The almost mariachi "Fanfare." The stoic balladry of "Find My Home." Everywhere, there's evidence that in 3 or 4 minutes, Galactic can cover ground well beyond hook, chorus and verse.
But "From the Corner to the Block" is scattershot, and flounders with nothing to tie it together. As on "Bounce Baby," where a blasting, island funk horn intro gives way into electro-happy confusion, there are spots where all of Galactic's voices are shouting at each other too loud to be heard.
- Margaret Hair, 4 Points