Album Reviews: Milk of Human Kindness by CaribouAs befits a man armed with a PhD in Mathematics, there may be some hidden sense of logic and formulaic order to The Milk of Human Kindness, the third album from Caribou's Dan Snaith (formerly known as Manitoba). To most ears, though, Snaith's wide-ranging, krautrockin' electronica will prove hard to predict.
There are some wicked collisions of influences. Four tracks in, "Lord Leopard" boldly assaults the listener with a punchy hip-hop beat and some classical tickling of the ivories. "Pelican Narrows" is another offshoot of this unusual marriage, reflecting the same influences, but employing them toward more chilled-out ends. Other patches get even mellower, but Snaith isn't interested in the somnolent. His laptop backdrops, no matter how mechanical in implementation, always crackle with life. "Organic electronic" isn't an oxymoron, and The Milk of Human Kindness is, in fact, just that. It's also a kitchen-sink album in terms of inspiration, and even the track sequencing seems to deliberately cater to short attention spans.
Snaith's biggest liability is his own voice, which often comes across as flat and even tentative. This works well when juxtaposed against the frantic "Brahminy Kite," but falters somewhat when layered atop more ambient stretches. On the surprising "Hello Hammerheads," though, he steps out with an acoustic guitar and effectively evokes Elliott Smith. The only other significant problem is that some of the best tracks, such as "Lord Leopard," have such a short runtime that they feel almost like interludes -- but leaving listeners wanting more is always better than leaving them wanting less. - Adam McKibbin
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