Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chairlift - Something


In the last few years I've been beaten down, laughed at and shouted at for my discouraging musical opinion. My narcissism has increased in the past year due to my uncontrollable ability to discuss music. When people aim the word 'pretentious' my way, I fight it with vicious music opinions and destroy all forms of anger directed my way with name dropping. I use the 'name drop' trick when people begin to smoother me with pop propaganda like how 'Lady Gaga is the best musician ever' and 'You listen to obscure music to be different'

So without angering the masses.. Chairlift return from a four years absence since the gleeful debut 'Does You Inspire You', which found it's way onto my Ipod in 2008. The pop hooks and sparse instrumentation left the debut album in chronic failure due to the substantial amount of filler surrounding the track 'Bruises'. This time around, Chairlift are one man down and the twee lyrics have been replaced with hatred and self disbelief. The opening track 'Sidewalk Safari', opens with a synth riff and simplistic drum beat which reminds me of the 80's New Wave period. The track has a respectful structure with a layered atmosphere. The vocals are far more mature and they've been effected stupidly past the point of normal. The rawness from Does You Inspire You has instantly been lost due to the strategic production taken care of by Alan Moulder, the man behind some of the most successfully shoegaze and dream pop albums. Some people have been naming 'Something' a Dream Pop album. I combat that by drawing comparisons to the 80's New Wave/Synth Pop days and the Pop structures which are present here. There may be some synthesizer layers and dark bass work, but that doesn't make it Dream Pop.

The five minute 'Wrong Opinion' opens with jungle-esque percussion and a hard bass riff. I like the eerie atmosphere initially, it sounds very tribal. Eventually the soft, passionless vocals enter with that common drum beat we hear day in day, out on MTV. The track reminds me of Cocteau Twins with the layered, ethereal vocals. This is a positive, but the other than that comparison, the tracks just goes straight over my ear. The bass is far too overpowering and the left sided industrial-esque sounds are way too left field for this type of recording. It just doesn't work with the mainstream beat and ethereal vocal style.

'I Belong In Your Arms' is the name of the third track, this is also bellowed out during the chorus which features some dream pop like synthesizer work, again.. Just because it has some layered synthesizer doesn't make it dream pop. You can hear that verse/chorus/verse structure here which is a trend in Chairlifts non-experimental attitude towards music. Yes, this album is different to the debut, but that's mainly due to the loss of a key member and compact sound helped by Alan Moulder. The synthesizers sound bright and give a dense atmosphere. This album is just released in 2012, it should have been released in 1981. even if it was, you wouldn't be able to tell the differences. Nothing innovative or original is included on this album, it's one long piece of unoriginal, bland synth pop.

 'Take It Out On Me' has some nice synthesizer hooks and an enjoyable chorus, but the middle part is long winded and meaningless. Then we hear the dark, emo like track 'Ghost Tonight'. Initially, I hear something alike Evanescence, but after the first five seconds I hear some Tears For Fears like synth hooks but with a hard hitting bass and effectless drum beat. 'Cool As A Fire' is a slow synthetic track with delicate syntehsizers using the strings to the obscured vocals perfectly. This is one of my favourite tracks because it's more melodic and harmonic. 

 The single 'Amanaemonesia' is far brighter and faster than anything the bands ever put out. As much as I enjoy some segments, I cant help but notice the clash between the verse and chorus. The chorus is extremely bright and fast paced with parallel synths to the vocals, yet the verse is incredibly dark and dreary. You may mention good dynamics when describing this, but the structure just clashes completely. I do like the sound however.

'Met Before' reminds me of a 7" Phil Collins record I may or may not own.. The fast paced drumming is fresh and works with the layered vocal harmonies. This is a nice track with decent lyrics, it's a shame it's under three minutes long because I enjoy that synth pop feel. The use of acoustic guitar makes an entrance on 'Frigid Spring'. although the song never really takes off, the beat is enjoyful and the imagery shines bright. It gives me the image of a girl standing on a beach overlooking the sea at dusk with her hair blowing in the wind, looking for her husband who hasn't returned from a fishing trip. 

As far as dream pop goes, 'Turning' is the closest track to warrant the label. The dark vocals sound like Kate Bush on a drunken night out. The synthesizer is atmospheric and the track takes in many soundscapes, using these sounds to the bands advantage. the track doest exactly grab my attention, the lack of instrumentation and with the vocals being obscured by the heavy synth sounds, the track just goes straight past me. finally, 'Guilty As Charged' ends the album on a dark note. Obviously written about her past relationship with the ex band member Aaron Pfenning. I'm almost certain they didn't break up by mutual consent. Just listening o the song gives the listener a one sided opinion from Caroline, some could say It's the... Wrong opinion?

This album is an improvment from the bands debut, without question. The electronic influences have taken control and they've managed to keep that pop aesthetic by creating a modern synth pop album. Although it doesn't suit to my tastes, I can see how others may enjoy this album to it's full potential. Personally I'm not a fan of the modern synth pop sounds and dark lyrical themes on top of mainstream drum beats. it's just unoriginal and straight up boring. Maturity has settled which gives the band a serious image, but I loved that childish themes from Does You Inspire You. This albums pink and black and blue.. And it's for you.
~Eddie

6.6


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