Something is Brooklyn-based Chairlift’s second album; their first since founding member Aaron Pfenning (now of Rewards – QRO photos) left after his break up with fellow member Caroline Polachek, evidence alone that you should never start a band with someone you’re sleeping with. Now a duo, Polachek and multi-talented instrumentalist Patrick Wimberley have created an album that shows experimentation and natural progression from Does You Inspire You, but simultaneously retains their synth-pop ethos, so that you barely even notice Pfenning’s absence.
Whilst their debut album oozed nouveau hipster-cool, Something is somewhat more of a tribute to ‘80s new wave, with heavier pop overtones. Producing credits go to Dan Carey and Alan Moulder, who have perfectly juxtaposed Wimberley’s musical output with Polachek’s diverse range of vocals, which are midway between expressionless and euphoric. Something is certainly not a bitter heartbreak album, but there are elements of nostalgic pining within the lyrics that is to be expected from an album emerging from the ashes of a breakup; the once playful lyrics (“The most evident utensil, Is none other than a pencil”) seen on their previous album are absent, instead showing a maturity and seriousness that gives their songs more substance: “Some wounds never mend” / “I lay my guts out on the table.”
The impossible to spell “Amanaemonesia” is a slight throwback to Chairlift’s old sound, featuring an unconventionality that is noticeably absent from the conformism of the rest of the album. “Ghost Tonight” begins with a lilting vocal that bursts into a refrain of ‘80s synth, and boasts a beat that captures the essence of dance-pop perfectly. “Frigid Spring”, “Turning” and “Guilty as Charged”, the final three tracks, provide a come down from the dance-inducing beats of the rest of the album, giving the record a varied complexion whilst allowing you to catch your breath.
Whilst many bands suffer profusely from splintering and regrouping, Polachek and Wimberley have proved themselves more than capable with this album. Whether they succeed or not in making pop cool again, Chairlift are making a damn good effort at it.