Chairlift - Something
Around 2007, I read an article in Uncut magazine detailing the rise of the Brooklyn indie music scene following the splendid rise of king-of-the-hipsters Animal Collective. There was a short feature at the end recommending a few “similar” artists (in retrospect, not many of the band’s in this list shared anything in common with AC except for the city in which they inhabited). Chairlift was one of them. So I checked them out and kind of liked what I heard, not enough to investigate any further, but it was a pleasurable listen nonetheless. A year on from then, the song ‘Bruises’ appeared in an iPod advert, an act which can go one of two ways; you either pull a Feist or do a Steriogram. Thankfully, four years on from flying, twirling, bleeding Nano’s, Chairlift have released an album worthy of the wait.
Using a palette of sounds synonymous with many 80s inspired modern eletro-pop outfits, Something delivers swathes of melancholic reminiscence, hazy exhilaration and some of the most enjoyable melodies that you’re likely to hear all year. It seems that Caroline Polachek has ditched the quaintness of previous song-writing efforts (‘Evident Utensil’ - 2007) without losing her knack for writing infectious pop hooks. ‘I Belong In Your Arms’ sees Chairlift at their most nostalgic; the colour and speed of an old Sega Mega Drive classic, whilst invoking a montage of Emilio Estevez going dance-crazy in a school gym somewhere twenty-odd years ago.
Despite the sounds of Something owing much of its texture to that often maligned and revisited musical decade, what stands out on this album represents something of a creative peak for front-woman Polachek; the skill of the song-writing and her laudable vocal performance. ‘Ghost Tonight’ is Feist-like in its mysterious seductiveness, teasing us at the end of the track by not returning to the hook when the listener is begging to hear it one last time. Very saucy behaviour indeed. In another attempt to seduce the listener, Polachek evens manages to squeeze in a Bat For Lashes style noir-ballad, ending upon a blissful, harmonised reprise reminiscent of an early 1990s tropical beach House comedown. You could be forgiven for thinking that, like the aforementioned Feist and Bat For Lashes, this is the creative output of mainly a singular female. Well, it’s not. So stop thinking that.
Chairlift have finally produced something of a winning formula. Never one to shy away from the accessible pop-hook, they have devised an album crammed full of them, all played over the top of intriguing instrumentation and impeccable production. It’s hard to think of a chorus more phonaesthetically pleasurable than that of the superbly infectious ‘Amanaemonesia’, and the wonky, wailing synths of album opener ‘Sidewalk Safari’ allow Polachek to inhabit are more deadpan vocal persona, whilst delivering intriguingly odd lyrics: “All the of bones in your body, are in way too few pieces for me. Time to do something about it, if you know what I mean?” Not really Caroline, but even so, with this outstanding release, you’ve secured my undivided love and attention.
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