Chairlift – Something

January 01, 1970



Comparisons have
been made between “Planet Health” (from Chairlift’s debut album, Does You Inspire You) and Berlin’s “Take My Breath
Away” (the sensual, sweaty power-balled that gained notoriety through Top Gun.) Nothing screams Top Gun though quite like “Sidewalk
Safari.” It is as if you’re racing towards the “Highway to the Danger Zone,”
and officially cleared for take-off. They could not have picked a better opener
to Something, the sophomore album and
like, totally ‘80s, synth-happy return from Brooklyn’s
Caroline Polachek (who has now been featured by Washed Out and Holy Ghost) and
Patrick Wimberly (who produced Das Racist’s 2011 album, Relax).


Try not to
cringe though when you read the words “’80s” and “synth-happy,” because
Chairlift does it right. The majority of it is reminiscent of the songs you’d hear on your favorite ‘80s movie
soundtrack. They’re not imitations; they’re evocative recreations with
painfully honest lyrics.


Even though
“Sidewalk Safari” seems to take off with a vengeance upon initial listen, it
gets brought back down to mellow just as fast. The rhythm of the lyrics make
you feel like you’re snaking through a concrete jungle, just as the title would
suggest. They take you out with intermittent handclaps (and really, who doesn’t
like handclaps?) and a tinge of Eastern flare that reappears in songs
throughout Something.


“Wrong Opinion,”
which carries you from Top Gun to Terminator with its electro-industrial
backbone, finds Polachek lamenting about the imminent end to a relationship: “I
laid my guts out on the table / Laid my guts out and you said no,” and “I see
beginning, you see end,” seriously hurts your heart.  In an upbeat ballad that could have easily
been a Belinda Carlisle song, “I Belong in Your Arms” has Polachek carpe-diem-ing
it up with the object of her affection asking “What would you do if I saw you
tonight? Why waste time?”  Almost all the
songs on Something hint at the subtle
tug of war in a failing relationship: desperately expressing love, constantly
seeking reassurance and often ending in rejection. But it doesn’t sound as sad
as it sounds!


The chorus in
“Amanaemonesia” shows them turning Japanese, as the oriental flare returns for
a dark, punchy, pop tune about (mis)perception.  “Frigid Spring” takes an out of place (but no
less plucky) turn for The Shins, with a dreamy sound from Wimberly that drips
from an acoustic guitar and electric piano. 
“Grownup Blues,” is a light, fluffy, grocery-aisle roaming song about
the everyday pains of growing up: “At the dinner party, at the DMV,” “on the
cellphone, on the BCC.” It’s quirky and relatable and the title sounds a lot
less severe than “Things I Have To Do As An Adult That Make Me Depressed.”


Something is a huge improvement on the scattered, undecided
tone of Does You Inspire You. And
improvement quality aside, it’s downright good. Not all of the songs are hits
(“Met Before” falls way short as a flat, unmemorable filler), but it’s much
more cohesive and really helps Chairlift establish a more recognizable sound.
It proves they’re way more than “Bruises,” the unforgettable hit that landed
them in an iPod Nano commercial. And for a group that started off wanting to
make background music for haunted houses, this is an enviable soundtrack of
another size.


DOWNLOAD: “Amanaemonesia,” “Take It Out On Me,”
“Guilty As Charged” PARRY ERNSBERGER


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