Chairlift’s “Moth” an engaging, thoughtful listen

The Brooklyn-based duo recently released their third album

Chairlift vocalist Caroline Polachek during a 2014 performance.

Courtesy of Chris Atto

Chairlift vocalist Caroline Polachek during a 2014 performance.

Cody Achin, Reporter, Scottsdale Chronicle

Chairlift’s newest album “Moth” is an enlightening listen. The composition is tight, coherent and sounds good. Melodies flow easily and dreamily as the music trickles the listener’s ears. Caroline Polachek’s voice is clean and all the instruments that Patrick Wimberly and Polachek play are clearly heard and understood. It is a delight to listen to. However, the craftsmanship with the songs all fall into the same pothole. Some songs lack the “hook” and the complexity that keeps many songs interesting. When the songs do present these hooks, they often don’t last long enough. Let’s dig into this album further, starting with the good things.

“Moth” does everything a dream/synth-pop album is supposed to do, creating an ambiance that lets the listener drift into their minds and relax. It is an album that gets the creative juices flowing and help the listener avoid distraction. Songs like “Unfinished Business” and “No Such Thing as Illusion” bring this sense of relaxation.

What is intriguing about this album is that it often expresses itself outside of this dream-pop sense and more into synth-pop. Most of the songs on “Moth” are more on the side of light dancing-type pop where the listener could get up and start to move around the house while doing some basic chores. In situations like these, “Moth” exceeds expectations.

Listening to the beautifully crafted lyrics, the album is pretty clear that it is a love album, an album centered on the hardship of getting over love and embracing the hurtful side of love. The lyrics, ambiance and the music itself created within the album are more than enough for a great synth-pop love album. The theme holds a strong place throughout the album but that doesn’t mean the album keeps the dark tone for long.

“Polymorphing,” “Romeo” and “Moth to the Flame” showcase the electronic drumming and beats that Chairlift centers the music on, thus creating the whole structure of the song around the catchy beats. This works for the album and it pushes “Moth” to continue without fail. From start to finish, the album has a good flow, while each song remains distinct.

What works best for “Moth” is its ability to synchronize the songs throughout the whole album. There is no crazy experimentation going on within songs and there is no oddball song that stands out. Listening to this album, the listener is to know that they are buying a dream/synth pop album and nothing else. While this security is nice, the fault is here in the amount of depth the music has.

The song that I felt Chairlift exemplified their creativity best on is “Show U Off.” The beats start the song off with the “bones” of the song. But it doesn’t fall victim to being stale. Polachek shows her voice range throughout the whole song, singing in wide ranges from second to second. The instrumentation is front and center; the music doesn’t get lost in a constant sound of ambiance. The guitar’s subtle notes before the chorus hits are the things that I wanted from this album. The bass is alive in this song, for example, constantly changing with Polachek’s voice and Wimberly’s guitar/instrumental playing. Again, the last minute of this song is perfect bliss, with olachek straying from the previous structure while Wimberly is hitting notes that weren’t heard throughout the song.

If all of “Moth” had the obscure details that “Show U Off’ contained, the album would be soaring high in the charts. However that is the gamble of taking a different direction. In Chairlift’s “Something” album, their sound was much more diverse when it came to song structure. It felt like “Moth” was more unified in this sense, more structured and less diverse. There is a single, trance-like feel to every song. While the music is well-written and catchy with nice choruses, almost all of the songs lack depth, that complexity that I wanted. For fans of Chairlift, this is a great listen. There are sure to be favorites of future listeners and there is sure to have a cult following behind “Moth.”