Chairlift Make Boldest Statement Yet On ‘Moth’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


chairliftmothMoth, the third album from Brooklyn duo Chairlift, is the band’s boldest statement yet, adding an urban edge to their synth pop sound. Singer Caroline Polachek has learned to meld her idiosyncratic vocals better with the grooves supplied by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wimberly, who replaced founding member Aaron Pfenning in 2011. The result is a more confident album, just as slick as Chairlift’s earlier pop, but with more grit and texture.

Moth is defined as much by its heavy, hip-hop-inspired backbeats as by its intricate synthesizer melodies. It revels in pop hooks while allowing room for sullen introspection.

Advance single “Ch-ching,” one of the most infectious songs of 2015, pairs rumbling Afrobeat rhythms with Polachek’s trademark octave-soaring voice. Horn flourishes and a filthy bassline provide the context for Polachek’s deconstruction of ambition. “Getting what you want can be dangerous,” she sings, “But it’s the only way I want it to be.”

“Romeo” thrives on a crunching beat that buttresses Polachek’s challenge to a “big talker.” With a smirk, she tells the man chasing her, “I’m gonna run ‘til you give me a reason to stop, to fall on my knees.”

Conversely, “Moth to the Flame,” shows Polachek trapped in a codependent relationship. “I should know better than to take your love letters to heart, when the game’s already lost before it starts,” she admits, her words in stark contrast to the feel-good nightclub vibe. After lamenting that she can’t stay away from him, Polachek offers the only explanation she can find: “He’s that kind of man, mama.”

Polachek is at her most vulnerable in “Crying in Public.” In the slow, swirling ballad, Wimberly’s pulsing beat mirrors Polachek’s wounded psyche. “My heart is a hollow with a space for your own,” she confesses before apologizing for her sentimentality. Chairlift takes musical risks throughout Moth, such as the adventurous amalgam of “Ottawa to Osaka,” which combines a jerky electronic rhythm with eastern flourishes.  In the cleverly-titled “Polymorphing,” Polachek spits out an endless supply of love-related metaphors (“If this heart was a garden would you till it?”) over a warm jazz-funk groove.

Moth is considered Chairlift’s New York album, inspired by the duo’s move from Boulder, Colorado to Brooklyn. The album retains Chairlift’s lush roots while injecting a dark industrialism. Gritty textures and urban beats add additional flavor to Chairlift’s vibrant palette, bringing Polachek and Wimberly a step forward as pop artists.

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