Wednesday, February 1, 2012

REVIEW: Chairlift - Something

Grade: 78% (C+)

Last we heard from the Boulder, Colorado synth pop duo Chairlift, we were tapping along to "Bruises" on an iPod Nano commercial. On their latest release, Something, they maintain much of the pop fundamentals with an arcane side gleaming over many of the tracks. The synths are lower and darker than their debut, and the percussion pieces play off of these with a majestic similarity. These new themes certainly make the follow up to Does You Inspire You different and a little more interesting. 

This isn't to say that the album is entirely enigmatic. Instead, the darker tracks contrast the poppier tracks and allow for the record to have more substance than some of the more bland indie-pop LP's we have heard recently. From the first two tracks, the listener is interpreting shady vibes from the sounds and lyrics, yet the third track, "I Belong In Your Arms," beckons back to the pop-elements that burst this duo onto the scene a few years back. It goes against the gloomy 80's feel of the opening tracks with a dance-ish, girls night out, 80's glee sound. Caroline Polachek sounds more like a rising 80's diva ready to sit in on an interview with Oprah rather than an emotional tween like Gretchen Ross. 

These 80's influences are scattered throughout the record. The driving beats accompanied by dark and dreamy synth layers flow well next to Polachek's voice and she clearly has experience shifting her voice to help a songs development. The production levels aren't through the roof but the record has smooth transitions from sample to sample. This helps give it a cohesive feel, and while only a few tracks stand out, allows it to be an enjoyable album to listen to. 

Of the standouts are the two back to back singles towards the back end of the album. Over five-minutes, "Amanaemonesia" includes a foot-tapping rhythm surrounded by a strong bassline which leads into a pensive chorus. While Caroline's voice is endearing, background vocals echoing, "mistaken for magic," in the chorus and her veiled vocal bridge gives the song a Salem Witch kind of attitude and works well with the album's back and forth themes. On the lighter side, "Met Before," is simply a quick punch in the mouth of hooks and catchy synths. 

While indie-pop albums are difficult to compile due to an overwhelming demand for quick and catchy songs like "Met Before," Chairlift does a nice job to keep the listener off-balance with their ability to strike from multiple influences and motifs. Because their style doesn't have the capacity to blow someone away as of yet, they have done a nice job to pack in these elements and influences into a substantial record and gestures towards a bright future. 

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