New Chairlift album fails to inspire

As a casual Chairlift listener, I’ve always noticed that the indie pop outfit from Brooklyn has been in a weird place, musically. You probably remember them best for “Bruises,” a sing-song synth track from their debut album “Does You Inspire You.” This song was everywhere in the late 2000s, featured heavily in an iPod Nano commercial.

The dancey track piqued interest and inspired album sales, but the album itself fell a bit flat. Turns out Chairlift wasn’t so much an album band, as good as their debut single was.

“Something,” Chairlift’s second album, was a bit better, producing another earworm track “I Belong In Your Arms” and sporting a more consistent tracklist. The most striking element and biggest strength of Chairlift throughout their career has been frontwoman Caroline Polachek’s angelic and powerful vocals. On “Something,” these vocals were featured pretty handily throughout, to Chairlift’s advantage.

On “Moth,” their new album, Chairlift plays to this strength somewhat. Songs like “Polymorphing” and “Moth to the Flame” use production well, looping her voice rhythmically and meshing it with the songs beautifully. “Polymorphing” also acts as this album’s best attempt at a standout single, with a hook that easily stuck in my head for a whole day after listening.

But none of the other tracks make any sort of impact on the listener. “Ch-ching” sounds like a cross between a Sleigh Bells track and a working template for the Big Grams EP—and not in a good way. “Romeo,” while fun, lacks substance and development to be a truly catchy pop song. Chairlift’s slower tracks like “Crying in Public” come off as dull, and they’re easily skippable. The album as a whole isn’t necessarily terrible or impossible to listen to, it just doesn’t warrant a second listen.

The trouble with “Moth” is the overall lack of memorable tracks or hooks. Sure, “Polymorphing” gets in there, but most other songs are underwhelming. Unfortunately for Chairlift, they’re no longer niche in the indie synthpop scene. Countless other—and more unique—bands have been inspired by songs like “Bruises” to keep innovating. Chairlift seems to have stalled at a disappointing place because while Polachek’s voice is sublime, the tracks on “Moth” are subpar.

Title: “Moth”
Band: Chairlift
Release date: Jan. 22
Rating: ★★☆☆☆