I admittedly didn’t give Chairlift much of a fair shake upon their initial breakthrough from what’s becoming a more and more ordinary form of breaking out, being featured on a commercial. Not just any ordinary commercial, but the Colorado electro-pop duo’s “Bruises” was featured on the much envied Apple commercial, which has helped break open such bands as Feist, Jet, Grouplove, CSS, and more. I had heard Chairlift’s debut album, Does You Inspire You, once upon its release and admittedly brushed it off as standard cutesy girl-pop in the realm of Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor.
What got me to give Chairlift a second chance was finding out their drummer Patrick Wimberly produced and played with humorous indie rap duo Das Racist on their debut LP Relax and was also featured on Washed Out’s “You and I”, which caused me to think Chairlift may be more interesting than I first gave them credit for. Thus, I gave Something, their sophomore effort, a chance, and found that Chairlift is not so ordinary after all.
“Sidewalk Safari” bursts forth with a flurry of funky synths contrasted with cool, calculated percussion and polished off with an excellent vocal performance from leading lady Caroline Polachek. 80’s pastiche no doubt gets a bit old especially in the indie realm of music, but Chairlift have a sort of mastery and sense of innovation towards this retro-futuristic style of music that keep it from feeling dated. “Wrong As Charge” mixes the airy synth, clattering drums, and icy vocals into one beautiful collage of a song. “I Belong In Your Arms” whip back and forth like they belong in a Flashdance montage, while a song like “Take It Out On Me” seems equally fit for a great 80’s soundtrack.
Difficult-to-pronounce lead single “Amanaemonesia” probably strikes me as one of the weakest songs on Something, with its vocal hysterics being a bit over the top, and the song turning every 15 seconds just being a bit dizzying. “Met Before” mixes their 80’s infatuation with neo-retro surf rock in another somewhat cluttered song, though its strong chorus carries it through the noise. A minor complaint, but sometimes Something can feel a bit to jumbled.
Something succeeds most on sexy, slow burners like “Cool As Fire”, “Guilty As Charged”, and “Ghost Tonight” where the duo performs the same experimental instrumental gymnastics but they also let the songs breathe and the songwriting do the talking.
I wanted to revisit their debut before this review to see if I just got it all wrong in the first place or whether Something is just dramatically better, and found that their debut was creative and pretty good after all, but still not to the quality of Something. Chairlift succeeds in its 80’s nod in a way few others do, and Something is really the only album a month into 2012 worth your time and money, a big step forward for a promising young band.
Can’t Miss: “Sidewalk Safari”, “Cool As Fire”, “Ghost Tonight”
Can’t Hit: “Amanaemonesia”, “Frigid Spring”