Caribou, "Marino"

Dan Snaith's music (previously as Manitoba and now, Caribou) is some of the best bright and sunny pop to roll out of speakers in recent years, and this video collection on DVD accents that fact with mostly silly, cartoonish visualizations of Snaith's blissful tunes.


The videos for Marino are all made up from the kinds of simple, no budget tricks and ideas that anyone who's ever wanted to make their own music video with mom and dad's camcorder can pull together. One clip uses a simple chroma key effect and footage shot out the window of a moving vehicle to turn the oft-used "let's film out the window of the van" technique into something psychadelic, while another uses a very crude type of photoshop rotoscoping over digital video to turn people into cartoons.

There's a running joke in the fan film community (that's the groups of comic book and sci-fi devotees who film their own sequels to Star Wars and Batman with portly friends and cheap 3D effects, for those not familiar with such obsessions) that says that every fan film script opens with something like: Ext.: The woods behind Jim's parents' house and that approach is used here too, with characters wearing giant balloon heads with hand-animated faces for expression running about through the woods. Yet another video turns to puppets and technicolor freak outs in a kind of trippy parody of a saturday morning kids' show. All in all, the visual content is always colorful and appropriate accompaniment for Caribou's music.

However, most of the videos lack anything resembling a narrative, and the ones that do have some loose story are composed of simple arcs that don't need three to five minutes to develop. I found myself drifting in and out of paying attention to most of these clips, despite the fact that I loved the crude, home-made charm of their presentation. And I love the music here; the music is the strongest part of this collection (which also comes with an audio CD containing four tracks). The videos though tend to have the kind of conceptual momentum that runs out of steam after a minute or two, which left me reaching for the remote so that I could check out the next idea/gimmick and then move on.

I imagine that these vidoes would provide terrific backdrop for a Caribou live show, since visuals in a show setting don't necessarily have to hold the viewer's attention the way they do when someone is watching a DVD at home. If nothing else, everything on the disc is cute and well worth a spin, and the disc should provide ample inspiration for those looking to grab a camcorder and some animation freeware to make videos at home. I think that I'd rather have seen more time spent on a few tracks than thin ideas applied to so many tracks as they are here, but in the end, it's hard to hate on a disc with puppets bouncing to Caribou.