The line between Dan Snaith’s different musical aliases has always been pretty clear cut. As Caribou, his main gig since 2005, he’s tackled an expansive mix of psychedelic soundscaping and wistful house music; as Daphni, he turns out stripped-down, sample-heavy club tracks. You’d be unlikely to mistake one for the other. But last month when Snaith dropped “Home,” the first new Caribou music in five years, it looked like maybe his wires had gotten crossed: Built atop a juicy loop of ’60s soul, the song sounded deeply informed by Daphni’s penchant for making funk and disco edits.
With “You and I,” though, the pendulum swings back to a sound and mood that’s quintessentially Caribou. The synths are pillowy and brightly colored; the crisp drumbeat toggles between ’80s new wave and a kind of slow-motion electro; and Snaith’s melancholy falsetto sounds better than ever. The whole thing is a feast of contrasting tones and textures, right down to an unexpected bridge that ducks into a sort of trap-adjacent side door for eight playful bars. The production is so vivid that it might take a few listens to recognize the hurt at the heart of the song. Snaith has sung about loss before, but on “You and I” absence assumes a stark new form as he grapples with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing. It’s the most vulnerable he has ever sounded. As he moves beyond the house-adjacent style of 2014’s Our Love, Caribou is entering new emotional terrain, too.