Chairlift - Does You Inspire You
They're Brooklyn hot with the thumbs up from MGMT. They're classically bonkers (they “make live music for haunted houses”) and they've just nabbed a song on an Ipod Nano advert. Bingo! Now sit back and watch the lorries trawl in the loot. But behold the curse of dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, the phantoms of Mr. Oizo, Stiltskin and Babylon Zoo will haunt ye souls! Ghosts condemned to walk the earth until their sins may be forgiven!
Luckily for Chairlift, their debut covers a lot of bases stylistically, and it is very stylish, flashing its Made in NY tag with catwalk pride. At times it seems so effortless they almost don't have to try, “We roll the Lower East Side, what is cooler than cool?”.
Let's begin with some good news. Bruises, that Ipod song, is gorgeous. Skipping alongside a perky bassline hijacked from The Cure's Lovecats, it's an adorably charming duet between a smitten kitten and her beau. "I tried to do handstands for you" she pines, for which he offers "frozen strawberries to chill your bruisy knees". If Hitler had heard this he may have decided to take up flower arranging rather than invading Poland. “For you hoo-hoo”, it could melt the coldest of hearts. It's the angelic G-rated antidote to the Teenagers' R-rated Homecoming, as puppy cute as The Moldy Peaches Anyone Else But You and the sort of genuinely sweet ray of sunshine that comes along so rarely these days.
Luckily for Chairlift, they're no one-hit wonder. There are a pair of beauties on show. Planet Health is the other towering highlight. From its bird song beginning, kitsch '80's slap bass (bizarrely like Phyllis Nelson's Move Closer) to its blossoming Oriental melody – it all works. It's dressed in Bowie's Let Dance Nile Rodgers production and reeks of quality. It's proper sultry too, designed to put steam in a man's strides. It has no fear of ridicule and, with singer Caroline's cool Nico echo, I imagined her dressed as a Geisha, but I'm weird like that. It also showcases one of the band's key strengths, gloriously bonkers lyrics, “Our intercourse was well protected, we made love with each others eyes...Stop! Drop and roll! Put out the fire”. Very silly and oh so very brilliant.
There are other interesting sights but way down in the valley by comparison. Don't Give A Damn is a lovely country lullaby with wafts of Campbell & Lanegan and the slightest burst of Patsy Cline on Temazepam. A broken-hearted Bonnie & Clyde spat and the yin to Bruises zippy yang. It's a cat fight of acid wit, "My standards are higher, I don't give a damn anymore" and encouraging evidence of Chairlift's musical diversity.
Somewhere Around Here continues the night drive into David Lynch territory, reliving Julee Cruise's nightmares. With a heartbeat drum it's a drop of morphine in your tea heightened by a midway snap of realisation, ”Somewhere around here there are witches”. Closer Ceiling Wax is also authentically cinematic. It's 3am with no company but the graveyard fog and street lights blurring in the icy mist. Haunted house music? Zoiks. “When I walk out of this room you will never see me again...I will never return from that scary place...my day is done”. What's cooler than cool? Ice cold! Frrrrosty.
But yes there is bad news. Odd opener Garbage is, well, rubbish. It's beatific Kool, hips 'n' cheekbone attitude but alas is a pretty, but-very-empty, box. Earwig Town aims for the Handsome Family but, despite a goofy gladiatorial duel between a mulletted '80's synth and a denim clad Hillbilly guitar, goes nowhere.
Territory is truly tragic. A mess of pretentious synths and this-is-actually-very-serious furrowed brows with Dolores O'Riordan-but-whinier vocals, hungover Monks moaning and some laughable Gothic imagery. It's medieval alright. It tries to create spine tingly spookiness but is about as scary as Scooby Doo. At six minutes, it's easily the longest haul and had me considering calling security to have them removed immediately. Bobbins!
Make Your Mind Up is equally overwrought if not as bad, but what's truly frightening is Evident Utensil, hideous Eurobeat that sounds like Aqua. Seriously. There's even the deep male comedy voice that I kept waiting to bellow "C'mon Barbie let's go party". It's hard to believe this is the band who created Bruises and Planet Health. Why? Why!! Words cannot describe its blood curdling horror. Just keep repeating, it's only a song, it's only a song. Luckily like Aqua's diminutive singer, it's mercifully short.
Finally there's Chameleon Closet, an interlude of jazzy horns, which feels like Tom Waits driving through town but deciding not to stick around.
And the curtain falls. A frustrating record to say the least, with glimpses of utter genius and utter madness. A pair of glorious twin peaks, some pleasant walks, but a lot of hazards. A band not scared of messing with their image (good), but committing some heinous fashion faux pas along the way. It's perfect for Itunes, you can strip it of its riches and discard the scraps for the hounds. Cute enough for short term kicks but not really big enough to play with the big boys, a bit like a Nano then.