Headphone Trip 

Caribou Whisks Listeners off to Andorra

A year ago, Dan Snaith—who records and performs as Caribou—planned a trip to the tiny country of Andorra. Nestled in the upper reaches of the Pyrenees Mountains on the border between France and Spain, Andorra, Snaith thought, would fit the lush and romantic new material he'd been working on "down to the ground."

"I kind of imagined Andorra would be the perfect physical home for [the album]," he said. "But when I got there, the whole country was basically a tax haven. Hence, it's all shitty duty-free stores with tacky souvenirs, cheap smokes, and the cheapest booze you'll ever find in your life—all in this amazing mountain landscape."

While the record that would eventually be named Andorra was recorded by Snaith alone in the modest confines of his London apartment, the music suggested a sense of grandeur more in line with the "forgotten, romantic mountain land, untouched by time" he expected to find. Whereas his last full-length, 2005's The Milk of Human Kindness, veered from electro-infused hiphop instrumentals to Neu!-inspired motorik, his new recordings gravitated toward an unexpectedly coherent sound. Not only were they structured like more conventional pop songs, they sparkled like classic '60s psyche pop, with heart-swelling emotion and baroque arrangements. Songs such as "Sandy" and "Eli" burst with dizzyingly euphoric melody, rigorous sonic detail, and a transporting wall-of-sound aesthetic. So even if the version of Andorra that Snaith envisioned never existed in the first place, the title turned out to be perfectly descriptive of his new songs—sublime mountain vistas or not.

"I named the album that because, all of a sudden, my idea of Andorra didn't fit the place," he explained. "When I'm recording, it's very much escapist music: escaping with this music into my head where it means all sorts of things for me. So in the end, the title refers more to this place—inside my head, I guess—that I imagined Andorra would be."

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