Caught by the River

Favourite Things

17th December 2010

Things Robin enjoyed in 2010
Swim by Caribou.

I’ve been thinking a lot about music over the last couple of weeks as a disparity rages through my brain. People say it’s been a vintage year for music yet all I seem to be exposed appears to be big record companies flogging a succession of dead horses. I’m painfully aware of the fact that the music industry is locked in a deathly annual cycle of eating its own tail but 2010 seems worse than ever. John Lennon on the cover of Q, NME and Rolling Stone. Every ad break features that dismal saccharine – nay Strychnine – version of Your Song (the sound of an erection section at a Tory party conference) and the final attempt to sell the Beatles back catalogue to the last few people spending out on music – those poor sods who own it already in every conceivable format. It’s like the X Factor has finally won and that these over-egged 60s and 70s back catalogues have been decreed the inescapable core curriculum of popular music. I’m pretty sure even Elton John must be sick to the teeth of people butchering his numbers. Where’s the revolution at when we need it most?

Thankfully, there was one record this year that stared long and hard at the rulebook then rearranged the pages in seemingly random order, creating something stunning and utterly unique. The resultant musical alchemy, Caribou’s magical Swim LP, was released in the spring of 2010. In my humble opinion, no one came anywhere near replicating its head-swivelling inspirations this year. While you might catch occasional echoes of Arthur Russell or Bizarre Inc or the soundtracks of John Carpenter films, Swim’s bounce and sway is all its own.

Maybe Swim is an acid house record beamed in from an alternate universe; perhaps it’s a jazz record sturdily reinforced for club conditions or the soundtrack to a rave recorded in zero gravity, joyously bouncing from wall to wall. Whatever the genre, this odd and unassuming – and this is a word that gets bandied around a lot but in this case it applies – genius little record managed to stave off the musical flatline for me this year.

Approach with an open mind. You won’t regret it for a minute.


If you buy from our friends at Rough Trade, there’s a three-disc edition of the record available in their Albums of the Year campaign. This edition will be available from the Christmas Market at the Social tomorrow.