Album Review: Chairlift, Moth


There’s a lot of talk of movement in the text of Moth, Brooklyn duo Chairlift’s latest release. On “Romeo,” lead singer Caroline Polachek demands, “put on your running shoes, I’m ready to go” amidst crisp, synth-pop production. And this makes sense – the band’s latest album serves as a departure point from 2012’s Something that is crisp, mature, and further commits to the band’s 80s synth-pop aesthetic.  

Although some moments on Moth are frustratingly empty, the album stands as Chairlift’s most coherent effort. The band has always been consistent aesthetically; this album, however, demands to be listened to as a whole. Amidst themes of departure, Chairlift is able to navigate the vulnerability and fragility of love in a way accessible to its listeners.


Lead single “Ch-Ching” might be the most fun indie-pop has had since ’s No Mythologies to Follow. The track is infectious, and effortlessly showcases Polachek’s confident soprano. Patrick Wimberly’s instrumentation seems a derivative of the tight rhythm and smooth horn charts that currently pervade pop radio, but somehow it fits the band’s slightly off-kilter vibe. The band’s work with Beyoncé influences this track especially; it features R&B drums and an infectious groove that would feel appropriate on Bey’s next single.


Although Moth often flourishes in exposed moments, “Crying in Public” is reminiscent of past single “I Belong in Your Arms” in its depth. There is a richness to the arrangement that stands alone on the album. Polachek softens lyrically, and the emotional vulnerability (expressed by the very public experience of being moved to tears over love on a train) nicely contrasts the depth in the instrumentation.


On “Moth to the Flame”, the lyrical subtext of fragility (not to mention explicit moth imagery) reaches its height. Polachek’s voice rises as if it is a flame; however intentional, this resonance elevates the song from a pop track to something bigger and brighter. Percussive synths and a persistent beat feel St. Lucia-esque, but Chairlift’s artistry and lyrical honesty enhances the seemingly generic indie-pop beat. This is glossy, sharp, and accessible – Chairlift at their finest.


A career that spans eight years often promises at least some variation, yet this release stands consistent with all of Chairlift’s prior albums. Moth reflects a continuing maturity and clarity of sound; although there are some discrepancies, Polachek and Wimberly have cultivated a unique indie-pop sound that is impressive in its scope and individual instances.


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