Something Something


Chairlift ChairliftSomething

7.5 / 10

Apart from “Bruises”, which featured in an ad for the iPod Nano, Chairlift are yet to make waves. Besides that mini hit, included on their debut album “Does You Inspire You”, they went by virtually unnoticed in the avalanche of new Brooklyn next big things. But now, Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly have the chance to make up for all that with the solid “Something”. The effort comes with a one-year delay (yes, it's them who should have garnered The Hundred In The Hands’ attention last year), but they are set to triumph this time, particularly with the support of a major. Their deal with Columbia isn't just a guarantee of more attention; it has also (according to them) had its effect on their tracks: they were written with a wider audience in mind. Call them sell-outs if you like, but the truth is it has made them write better songs.

In today's climate of major label hostility, the switch would normally warrant little more than a side note, but here it is key. “Something” is going for gold - not only in its use of new marketing channels, but also on several other levels. The most important being the style change they have achieved by fusing the highlights of modern indie music: colourful, psychedelic, eighties hedonism, alongside the influences of African music and a mysticism that never becomes tacky. Caroline's voice, the big star on the album and the duo's most successful feature, takes care of the latter. Her chameleonic, wild voice (almost on par with Karen O's), allows her to switch from dream-pop diva ( “Turning”) to neo-rock commander ( “Guilty As Charged”) in the blink of an eye - while giving her lyrics some highly suggestive double meanings. You can tell she's up for a party, less detached than before, open to new stimulants and completely over the breakup with former third band member Aaron Pfenning - who she doesn't need for anything anymore.

Full of complex yet direct songs, “Something” is a record for both day and night, for the club and the office - perfectly prepared to become a hit by producers Alan Moulder and Dan Carey. Its best tracks are the most up-beat ones, the ones richest in wild textures that explode in the background - courtesy of Wimberly, a multi-instrumentalist and collaborator of the brilliant Das Racist. I'm talking about songs like the exciting openers “Sidewalk Safari” and the fluid “Wrong Opinion”, alongside the elaborate “Amanaemonesia” and the fabulous “Met Before” (which could have been written by Altered Images, 25 years ago, or by Love Is All, two years ago). However, there are also the more conventional ones, particularly the three tracks in the middle. Some sound like filler, for example the rather mediocre “Cool As A Fire”. It’s not just that they remind me of “Ray Of Light” era Madonna – the main issue is that they pale in comparison with the exuberance of the rest of the material. Never the less, Chairlift know how to play their cards - placing less engaging songs strategically, next to their most explosive bombs. The objective: to keep the listener alert at all times on a sexy, tasty record full of surprises.

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