Chairlift – Moth (Album Review)

Chairlift – Moth (Album Review)

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Chairlift may be added to the ever-growing list of contemporary duos whose music marries the seemingly incongruous lush and lite aspects of Synthpop music – dancey Disco beats, flanged bass sound, New Wave–associated keyboard melodies, occasional guitar flourishes, and idiosyncratic vocal styling. Formed in 2005, and currently based in New York, United States, Chairlift consists of Caroline Polachek (vocals, synthesizer, drum programming) and Patrick Wimberly (drums, bass, keyboard, guitar, backing vocals). The duo have released three studio albums – 2008’s loungy, laid-back, and sporadically chiming Space Pop–classifiable Does You Inspire You (“Planet Health”); 2012’s more urgent, upbeat, and sweeping New Wave affair of Something (“I Belong in Your Arms”); and this year’s jagged (in terms of rhythm), more textured and meticulously arranged new album. Overall, Chairlift’s music swims in the same spectrum inhabited by fellow duos such as Tegan and Sara (“Stop Desire”), Empire of the Sun (“Walking on a Dream”), Hurts (“Illuminated”), Icona Pop (“In the Stars”), and Purity Ring (“Heartsigh”).

Released on January 22, 2016, Chairlift’s latest, third album, entitled Moth, opens with the cinematic drama and sinister sound of “Look Up.” Building up to the light jazzy, lounge-apt “Polymorphing,” the music then soars with the upbeat and springy rhythm of “Romeo,” whose oozing Pop sensibilities befit it on a playlist that includes Avril Lavigne’s “My Happy Ending,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” and Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.” Then there is the haunting melody and hypnotic mood of “Ch-Ching,” after which the Disco lights turn dimmer as the breezy and loungy slow ballad “Crying in Public” plays next.

Interestingly, “Ottawa to Osaka” has that Dream Pop vibes that harks to the mystical allure of the legendary Scottish band Cocteau Twins (“Bluebeard”). Afterwards, the mirrorball glitter of the ensuing “Moth to the Flame” returns the album to Dance territory, enough to evoke images of bodies of couples merging into inseparable ones. Also dance-floor-worthy, the initially spacey and then subtly funky “Show U Off” explores the mainstream fringes of R&B, where Polachek gets to stretch her vocal cords and effectively displays some of her melismata and falsettos. In the penultimate track, the pulsating beauty “Unfinished Business,” Chairlift succeeds in channeling, either deliberately or coincidentally, the free-spirited eclecticism and eccentricity of the iconic Icelandic singer Björk (“Hyperballad”). Finally, Moth closes with the Avant-garde/Worldbeat sound of “No Such Thing as Illusion.”

Ultimately, what sets the music of Chairlift apart from some of its contemporaries is its apparent adventurousness and willingness to evolve and to explore the complex and intricate side of Pop music, seemingly discontented in languishing in the comfort zone of an established compositional and structural formula. Even the further improvement and individualization of Polachek’s voice from one album to the next is observable, especially to the ears of anyone who is really paying attention to the elements that comprise each of the songs. Moth is truly soothing and uplifting in equal measures. CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
aLfie vera mella
elfideas102@yahoo.com

Born in 1971 in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella immigrated to Canada in 2003. He has since then been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, working fulltime at a health care institution in the city while also serving as the associate contributing editor of a local community newspaper, tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, Music, and Genres. Prior to coming to Canada, he was a registered nurse in the Philippines and worked as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and magazines, handling Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. He was also the frontman and chief songwriter of an Alternative Rock/New Wave band, Half Life Half Death, releasing an album and a handful of singles. In Canada, he formed another band, haLf man haLf eLf; they are currently working on their first album. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books; listening to music; taking care of his eight-year-old son, Evawwen; participating at various community events; and exploring the diverse cultural beauty of Canada whenever schedule permits him. He has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines and, eventually, websites. He started writing album reviews for CrypticRock in 2015. In 2016, he published Part One (Literature & Languages) of his essay series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf? His next planned literary endeavor is to publish the remaining parts of the anthology and his works on Poetry, Fantasy Fiction, and Mythology.

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