Album review for Does You Inspire You by Chairlift released through Kanine Records.
Brooklyn-based trio Chairlift already have the advantage - if you can call it that - of gaining airplay over here in the UK via the medium of a television commercial. Anyone who has seen the most recent Apple iPod Nano advertisement by now will be aware of the kooky girl singing "I tried to do handstands for you." over a bassline that is eerily reminiscent of The Cure's 'Close To Me' several times over. The song in question is 'Bruises', the fourth track on 'Does You Inspire You' but by no means the standout, or indeed most accessible moment on the record either for that matter.
It's always a tricky entry point for a little known act; remember Stiltskin or Aqualung anyone? Exactly. What sets Chairlift apart from any number of their peers fortunate enough to have had a helping hand via the marketing moguls at Channel 5 is that they actually possess a songbook's worth of tunes here that not only sound distinctive, but at times radiate an utterly compelling presence, mostly courtesy of Caroline Polachek's extraordinary vocal performance.
Musically, reference points are fairly obvious. The Cure's mid-eighties pop phase we've already mentioned, and from that same era Chairlift could easily be described as containing equal parts The Blue Nile, Will Powers and T'Pau, cruel as that may seem. What makes them work on pretty much every level, and certainly more so than the aforementioned three are Polachek's incendiary way around a sentence, switching almost effortlessly between Kate Bush whimsy to Donna Summer impresarios, occasionally bringing the odd Bjork-ism for comfort.
Indeed, its this point where Chairlift can be at their most irritating too, not least when Aaron Pfenning tries to get in on the act with the odd nonsensical quip mid-song that makes him sound like the Sugarcubes' Einar Orn to Ms Polachek's Gudmundsdottir out-take.
Songwise, 'Planet Health' reads like a Dr Miriam Stoppard list of things you shouldn't do, tongue-in-cheek of course even down to the sex-is-bad-for-you, honest "we made love through each other's eyes" line. 'Earwig Town' meanwhile could be Clint Eastwood's first spaghetti western cameo soundtrack updated for the Barack Obama generation while 'Evident Utensil' rips through text message and email centric laziness, proclaiming the importance of the written word courtesy of Polachek's most evidently striking vocal on the album.
Elsewhere, 'Don't Give A Damn' sees the band switch tack altogether by following an acoustic country road through Emmylou Harris' back yard, while 'Ceiling Wax' could be the post-(new)rave comedown to fellow New Yorkers MGMT's symphonies of ecstasy.
All in all, Chairlift have created an impressive record that showcases their wide range of talents and influences with some aplomb. Keep the vocal duties strictly with Ms Polachek next time around and they've every chance of the follow-up being a genuine classic. Impressive stuff.