I was made aware of Chairlift’s existence listening to what we thought was an 80’s new wave internet radio station at work. I heard “I Belong in Your Arms”, thought it was a great song, and went about investigating the band. I was surprised to find out that the album was released this year, although the recording did sound a little too slick to be from the 80’s. Turns out the station was based on that time period but included songs from any era that fit in with the sound.
According to Wikipedia, the original intention of the project was to make music for haunted houses. Apparently sometime after they had decided to make pop music instead, their song Bruises was used in a commercial to launch some new iPod model. I have not heard that album at all, but here are my thoughts on Something, filtered through Chairlift-virgin ears.
Something has a very heavily 80’s influenced feel, with lots of atmospheric and bleepy synths, and super airy vocals with sweet melodies, although there are moments of rock intensity and darker moods. Maybe that’s some of the spookiness held over from the haunted house phase. It’s almost like The Eurythmics meet Imogen Heap. The vocalist doesn’t necessarily draw directly from Annie Lennox or Ms. Heap, but I feel there are healthy doses of both in there, with maybe just a little early 90’s r & b slowjam, minus the over the top vocal acrobatics. What really defines this album are the atmospherics and the melodies, the first getting the feeling just right, so when that amazing melody jumps out, sometimes unexpectedly, you are primed for it, and its like someone just put a blood pressure cuff around your heart and inflated fast.
Sidewalk Safari – Starts off sounding a little wacky, but once you listen to it a few times you get used to that bendy melody, and it does relate well to the keyboard line chorus hook (it’s kinda interesting that it is the keyboard line that sticks in your head and not the vocal in this chorus). The beat sounds a little like an audio heart arrhythmia. Party heart. The bridge takes us on a twilight adventure in an electric jungle. That sounds like an MGMT video.
I Belong in Your Arms – Pulse pulse pulse. This song is audio butterflies. I dare you to not like it. Unless you don’t like airy female singers, or the 80’s. Then it wouldn’t be much of a dare.
Met Before – The start of this song could have easily come from the Stone Roses side of the Madchester Music scene. Guitar bang wiggle. The chorus would go well with a fast forwarded montage section of a Brat-Pack movie.
Many electronic keyboards are equipped with a pitch-bend wheel. It’s kinda like a big knob turned on its side and spring loaded so it always returns to center, and when you roll it forward or backward it moves the pitch of the notes you are playing up or down a preset amount. It’s a keyboard trying to be like a guitar player bending strings, but much more accurately. Not that there is anything wrong with that. What? You will find liberal use of a pitch-bend wheel in the intro to sidewalk safari.
If you smile when 80’s pop or new-wave comes on the radio, either because you are joyful or just amused, give this album a listen. Also if you have liked any of the more recent wave of electro-pop like the Sounds, Imogen Heap, or less Rock-y Metric, give it a go. If you are generally just kinda uptight and serious, this might not be your bag. Not to say that if you don’t like it you have a stick up your ass, but you do and I can’t hear you protesting because the stick is coming out of your mouth.