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'Does You Inspire You' has been the special soundtrack to my summer, and Chairlift one of the most treasured new bands I've discovered in the last year.
Formed in 2006 at university in California, the band are Caroline Polachek, Aaron Pfennig, and Kyle McCabe. Although these aren't household names just yet, you might have heard their single 'Bruises' on an Apple iPod Nano ad in 2008. This track is sweet and sassy electro pop, with a pared down beat, bassline and Polachek's haunting vocals on top. For me, the lyrics are most exciting, because they tell quirky and inventive stories about the songwriter's relationships. This one playfully describes the first exciting time in a new relationship as handstands, falls and bruises.
Chairlift aren't afraid to go beyond this traditional pop format in their other songs, sometimes creating lush and multi-layered soundscapes, such as in 'Somewhere Around Here.' The track is very melodic with just a soft, skeleton beat, and haunting duet of vocals laid over the top. Polachek has an amazing range, and can manipulate her voice in a highly expressive way. She can be quite experimental with the tone and intensity of her voice in tracks like 'Evident Utensil' (where I think she sounds like Diamanda Galas). This song describes how the best utensil ever is a pencil, as so much can be created with such a simple thing.
This playfulness is evident throughout the tracks, and is the reason I am so persuaded by the album. The melodic songs please my ears, but also give my brain something to consider. One track that I am particularly fascinated by is 'Planet Health' where Polachek describes all the health advice she's ever been given, all mapped out as a planet. She delivers it in a very dead-pan way, creating this beautiful, funny and delightful song that makes fun of 'serious' government health warnings. One of the verses describes how she finds her friends in a forest of lungs, and they 'just say no to drugs' and another talks about how when you're old you get kicked off planet health!
I love pop and singing along to songs, but I find manufactured pop to be so predictable. I find the Chairlift 'Does You Inspire You' experience to be more like a novel mixed with a music video mixed with an amazing pop soundtrack. No subject matter is too weird (there is a song called 'Earwig Town') and yet bizarrely they all resonate with me. Especially when I see an earwig and it sees me and we are having a stand-off as to who is going to run away scared and who is getting squashed.
I also made the effort to go and see the band live at a festival in London, and Polachek's voice was just as sassy and seductive in person, although they played too few songs to really get a good idea of what the whole album sounds like live.
If you love indie, electronic pop and stories I think you will love this album. Be prepared for weird angles all wrapped up in a melodic soundscape and prepare to be surprised. If you really only liked 'Bruises' from the Apple ad - just buy the single - it's much more weird.
Album £7.99 from itunes, Amazon CD £6.98 at the time of review, or try it out first on Spotify.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Planet Health
3 Earwig Town
5 Somewhere Around Here
6 Evident Utensil
8 Make Your Mind Up
9 Don't Give a Damn
10 Chameleon Closet
11 Ceiling Wax