Viewing the career trajectory of Chairlift through a public lens can be quite confounding. How can a band who started off as a project formed with the intent to provide background music for haunted houses, then go on to be a feared possible one-hit wonder of music’s digital age with their track “Bruises” being featured in an Apple iPod commercial? It’s a career path that can definitely cause eyebrows to raise. Not to mention how they recently went on to help pop mega-star Beyoncé co-write a track off her last album. Through all of this, Chairlift has been one of synth-pop and indie electronica’s most exciting voices.
All of these are factors that could harm a band’s career in a myriad of ways, but that’s not the case with Chairlift. Through all of these publicly imposed identity crises, musically they’ve always been themselves and Moth is a definite example of Chairlift’s true guise.
What is Chairlift’s true form? It’s a songwriting duo that is making some of the freshest sounding and most impressively produced songs in pop music today. This was already proven on the band’s stellar album Something, but it is made even clearer here. Akin to Grimes’ recent record Art Angels, Moth is a record full of catchy-as-hell hooks, and memorable songs that prove to be another advancement in just how intelligent pop music can be.
All the while, this album feels very of its time without running the risk of sounding dated. This is what pop music’s present sounds like, and most likely will continue to sound like in the future. It’s a concept that is most prevalent on the album’s first four tracks. From the get go, Moth is an ear worm-heavy monster, especially on tracks “Romeo” and “Ch-Ching.” I know we’re only one month into the year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of December, I still consider these two of my favorite tracks of 2016.
The performance from Chairlift’s vocalist Caroline Polachek further excels the fun nature of this album. From her emotional crooning on later album track “Unfinished Business” to the cute background hook “He’s that kinda man, mama” on the track “Moth to the Flame,” Polachek never ceases to add an extra splash of color to each of the songs here.
What Moth lacks — which the aforementioned Something had plenty of — is a consistency in quality. Something was twelve tracks of icy, yet catchy, avant-pop that felt engaging for it’s entire duration. In short, it’s a great record. While this album doesn’t feature any tracks I would deem un-enjoyable, all of the memorable attributes and genuine catchiness that Moth possessed early on begin to take a bit of a nosedive with tracks “Crying in Public” and “Ottawa to Osaka.”
It’s tracks like these that take what was proving to be an exciting and enthralling listen and turns it into a boring and bland one, with songs that don’t provide as much invitation for frequent visits as the album’s first couple of tracks did. A lot of Polachek’s lyrical content on this album — which is mainly about falling in or becoming submissive to love — previously made way for interesting content on Something. But it just feels a little forced and rehashed here in not the best of ways.
Despite some of the flaws mentioned here, Moth — even at its low points — is still a really great, fun record that should most certainly be sound-tracking your next house party. Chairlift have cracked the combination of what makes for good thought-provoking pop, almost as if the combination were “27-9-9-23, Ch-ching! Ch-ching!” Sorry, but you try to listen to the song “Ch-Ching” and not have that chorus stuck in your head. It’s impossible.
— Dan Fiorio, Music Blogger