Review of Something Album by Chairlift

As made apparent by the choice of cover art, Chairlift are now a double act consisting of Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly, with former member Aaron Pfenning departing before the duo entered the studio. For those of you unfamiliar with the name you may be familiar with them through their track 'Bruises,' which featured on an iPod Nano ad campaign way back in 2008. Now on their third album the duo present their latest stab at alt-pop, full of synthy beats and 80s melodies.

Chairlift Something Album

For a double act the two are capable of making quite a lot of sound, incorporating the 80's ethic that more is. well more. On track two; 'Wrong Opinion,' there is everything from binary synths, crashing guitars and distorted efforts, sounding something like a futuristic xylophone, all with Caroline's melodious harmonies cascading over head. The culminating song comes across as a soundtrack to drive out of the city, probably in a DeLorean, into some ultramodern countryside. The enduring lyric "I see sun" points to some kind of escape from a fractured life in urban milieu, it may seem as though life is bleak but there is a light at the end. With this kind of music, electro-pop or whatever you choose to call it, it seems to be trapped in its own time period. The sound is archaic yet it maintains an avant-garde, futurist perspective.

At times the pair mix their sound up to avoid the dreaded threat of persistence synth-lines. On 'Frigid Spring' they incorporate a steady use of acoustic guitar and snare with Polachek's delicate vocals providing a spring-meets-summer soundtrack, frigid or not. Ranging from ethereal to a more assertive style, Polachek's vocals incorporate an array of ranges, often comparable to Christine McVie. It is this fluctuating style that prevents Something from dragging and sounding lethargic, Polachek's particular singing style being the key to this; her ability to take on the role of the protagonist of the song allows her to assert full emotion into her role.

The progression the duo has made from the straightforwardness of their pop some four years ago to now is apparent throughout the album time after time. Both lyrically and musically it is doubtful that they could have conjured something quite like the affirmation of love found on 'I Belong In Your Arms' or the sleekness of the heavily filtered guitar lick on 'Sidewalk Safari' as a trio. As far as avant-pop goes, the two combine wonderfully to produce music ranging from beautiful to sinister and do so almost seamlessly.


Joe Wilde

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