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Review: Caribou back with unpredictable, immersive album

Caribou, “Suddenly” (Merge Records) Caribou is Canadian musician and mathematician Dan Snaith and “Suddenly” is his first album since 2014’s dreamy “Our Love.” His latest record is a vibrant collage of choice samples, warped production, taut instrumentation and delicate but assured vocals.

Two introspective torch songs bookend the record. In between, transition is the only constant. Thoughtful meditation gives way to a bombastic drum-fill. A pool of tranquil piano is stomped on by a flossing battle rapper.

Each song is an aural expedition. “You and I” is all riveting pulse, bass throb and digital glitter that begins with Snaith singing, “It’s a lie/I can always count on.” An amped cheerleader, guitar theatrics and tenor sax coalesce for the finale. “Magpie” starts out like vintage Boards of Canada until Snaith’s fey voice blooms and the synths start to flutter away.

Courtesy of an ace Gloria Barnes sample, “Home” plays like a lost soul gem unearthed from a tossed record crate. A dusted break, plush strings, tickled harp and an assist from Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden take it to another dimension.

And you can dance to it. The sultry, cowbell-laced “Never Come Back” is pure heat, as warm sonic rays jut above thumping kicks and the BPMs inch toward the 130s. The prismatic banger “Ravi” will also move bodies, as Snaith captures an overriding communal feeling.

What stands out is how seamlessly everything comes together. Disparate parts morph organically in a mastery of counterbalance. It’s inside that equilibrium where “Suddenly” resides. The sudden shifts are exhilarating and the record’s strongest suit.

The title might refer to an abrupt realization of our current state, either personally or universally, and the record seems to be about grasping the moment. Embracing the flow. Learning from your past by never looking back. And those suspended seconds when you suddenly feel more alive.

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