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Chairlift are Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly, a Brooklyn duo who’ve been around the pop block (a faintly twee debut album in 2008 and an iPod ad) yet bucked the second album cliche to come back with something infinitely stronger, smarter, sexier. That something would be ‘Something’, their second album released on Young Turk this Monday, which is, quick simply, a bloody good pop record. It was Amanaemonesia that first had me falling for Chairlift, the kind of song that makes spinning round on a office chair feel somehow 1) not ridiculous and 2) sexy. Which just goes to show quite how powerful their punch is. And that’s not even the best song on the album. That would be I Belong In Your Arms, a song so fit to burst with joyful abandon it’s almost obscene. I’ll put my hands up: I’ve actually danced down the road to that one and I wasn’t even drunk. Anyway, I dropped Caroline a few questions last week to find out about their punchy new sound, what took them so long to come up with the goods and their Boiler Room performance.
Hey Chairlift, I really like your new album. It’s been a long time coming. What have you been up to?
Caroline: Thank you! Well, Patrick and I have been “backstage” for about a year, making videos, getting the live arrangement together, but it’s felt like a crazy trip, and it’s hard to believe that it’s finally coming out. This new record has so many images and micro-styles in it, so in a sense, we’ve been obeying the record for the last year, figuring out how to dance it, paint it, film it, dress up as it, and play it live.
Your sound is a lot punchier now. What feeling led the making of ‘Something’?
Caroline: Playing our first album live for a year and a half led to a lot of on-stage re-arrangement of the songs, always to the effect of making them faster and harder, and somehow feel more exotic without referring to any particular genre. So we knew straight off that this album had to harness that energy. Frankly, we were a bit frustrated with the soulless, dreary repetition of touring, and were thirsty for something that was the sonic equivalent of ‘neon, yellow juice.’ Sidewalk Safari is the first song we wrote of the new batch – we needed to blow off some serious steam and start afresh. The wandering sense of fantasy on songs like Frigid Spring and Turning came a few months later as we settled into the new vocabulary. We wrote around 40 songs for this album, and picked the 11 to go to producer Dan Carey with to record and mix in London. Dan is known for his punchy, textural, open sound (at least in my mind!), so he’s to thank as well for handling our arrangements so nicely.
How was your Boiler Room experience? Props for the dancing.
Caroline: It was amazing. I wish we had Boiler Room in NY, the live chat is such a scene! I think the live chat reactions were a more entertaining performance than the dance, so I’m glad that a video went up on youtube with the chat included. We prepared the whole show on the fly, and frankly at sound check I was so terrified by all these english DJs watching me rehearse the Amanaemonesia dance with my fucking ballet shoes on that grimy floor, with all the lights on, that I decided to scratch the dance entirely. But right before we went on, I realized “If we’re only in London for a couple days, I might as well confuse some people and get a workout. Why not?”
What’s going to be keeping you busy these next few months?
Caroline: Tour, tour, and more tour! Dates here. We’re leaving in a week for about three straight months out, but for the first time there are multiple girls in our convoy! I was so used to being the only one, but now we’re touring with an amazing female synth player, and a female tour manager, so we balance the boys out 3-to-3. Ha. More luggage, less odor.
Who’s making the music that’s most exciting you at the moment?
Caroline: Violens, Anika, Ice Choir, Kurt Vile, Cass McCombs, Geneva Jacuzzi, Regal Degal, John Maus, Nite Jewel, GangGangDance.
Predictions for 2012?
Caroline: A move away from “vintage” aesthetic towards frighteningly forward-thinking stuff, or a stranger mix of the two.
Caroline: Improve my punctuality and posture!