January 25, 2012

Album Review: Chairlift's Something


When a band few expect to last past their debut album veers left of expectations and turns things around for themselves, it's a good thing. It's been almost three years since Chairlift released their debut, Does You Inspire You on indie label Kanine, only to be quickly swallowed up by Columbia Records after their buzz turned them into a commodity. The move arguably started the Brooklyn act off on the wrong foot with their core indie audience, and taking full advantage of Apple's commercial appeal alongside making eye-brow raising decisions such as joining 2010's ill-fated Lilith Fair probably didn't help. Since then, Chairlift has maintained a low-profile, re-emerging in late 2011 with some obvious changes to the lineup. Despite losing co-founding member (and former beau of frontwoman Caroline Polachek,) Aaron Pfenning to his pursuit of a solo career, shedding the extra weight has given Chairlift enough breathing room to create a more rewarding product on their sophomore effort, Something.

Now the duo of Polachek and multi-talented producer Patrick Wimberly, Chairlift has resolved a conflicted identity crisis that left some apparent cracks on their debut. No longer torn between between weathered twee pop and crystalline electronics, the two have decided to pursue the stronger of these directions on Something (Thankfully, its the gleaming synth soirees rather than the played-out post-Feist jangle.) Beginning with opening standouts "Sidewalk Safari" and "Wrong Opinion," Chairlift gets adventurous with an alien terrain of electronic pop that weaves its way through peaks and valleys. Evocative moments such as "Met Before" and "I Belong In Your Arms" or overwrought tail-end tunes "Amananomesia" and "Frigid Spring" audibly highlight the smoother contours in Chairlift 2.0's polished brand of pop. While some areas of the LP require more attentiveness to the album's intricate design (the sensual numbers "Ghost Inside" and "Cool As a Fire,") they at least vary Something's pace and prompt deeper engagement.

Months ago when AwkwardSound gave a first listen to "Sidewalk Safari," AS made note of how "Evident Utensil" was one of the few moments on Does You Inspire You where Chairlift got it right. This time around on Something, that same statement can be said for a majority of the tracks, with credit going out to the duo's new found focus and self-awareness of where they lie within the synth pop spectrum. Chairlift hasn't broken any new ground with their sound on their sophomore effort, but they've surely found a way to present it in a much richer light.


Chairlift's Something is available now on Columbia / Young Turks Records.

4 comments:

  1. So addicted to the new album!
    Sidewalk Safari Live: http://youtu.be/77ob12zZLes

    ReplyDelete
  2. So addicted to the new album!
    Sidewalk Safari Live: http://youtu.be/77ob12zZLes

    ReplyDelete
  3. So addicted to the new album!
    Sidewalk Safari Live: http://youtu.be/77ob12zZLes

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think this album is pretty great. They’ve come so far from being the “iPod nano” band, you know? I’m really happy for them. This Black Cab Session really sold me on “Something.” Love love love: http://www.blackcabsessions.com/?id=1326294312

    ReplyDelete