With M83's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
as one of the undisputed highwater marks of the synth pop/rock revival movement that exploded over the musical landscape of the last year, Anthony Gonzalez's success has left almost unattainably high standards for any bands in 2012 who have more in common with the New Romantics than the indie rock acts of the late '90s and early '00s. With a sound that is equal parts Bjork, Florence + the Machine, and Duran Duran, Brooklyn-based synth pop duo Chairlift
attempt to channel that same retro feeling on their third album, Something
and while the album is cohesive and entertaining while listening, the album provides little in the way of memorable material that will stay with you after the nostalgia fades away.
Despite my reservations about the long term replay value of the album, Something
remains a varied and dynamic work that experiments as much with tone and style as an Animal Collective LP (though with fewer standout tracks). Singer Caroline Polachek wraps her haunting voice around the (many) instruments and production of Patrick Wimberly, ranging from funky electro-pop to atmospheric guitar chords straight off of Disintegration
to ambient exploration and beyond. Chairlift seems more concerned with composing tight and well-crafted homages to their musical influences while simultaneously charting a sound that is distinctly their own than with making the most hook-filled singles.
The album's stand-out track is the mouthful "Amanaemonesia" which sneaks its way into your brain til you find yourself singing along even when you can only pronounce its title right about 25% of the time. It's five minutes long and doesn't get old or repetitive once. It's simple retro pop bliss. None of the other tracks have that same immediate durability but other interesting tracks include the jangling guitars of "Frigid Spring," the dark and sonic "Cool As A Fire," and "Guilty As Charged" which is one of the most impressive displays of Caroline Polachek's truly impressive pipes. If you still haven't gotten tired of the '80s resurgence, Something
deserves a listen even if it may mark the beginning of the moment when this movement broke.