“I’ve got another confession to make” (Yes, these are those lyrics from that Foo Fighters song). Now that I’ve made a horrific allusion to my debut article for The Rock, it’s time I explain myself. Alas, I was not cutting edge enough to discover Chairlift’s Moth on my own. Only when I was placed in a room filled with equally hard-core music junkies did I come across this avant-pop outfit. As we went around the circle exclaiming our favorite bands (I was pretty salty that Blood Orange, Tame Impala, and Wet were already taken, so I panicked and went with Jamaican Queens), somebody mentioned Chairlift. The name sounded vaguely familiar but also entirely foreign to me, so I made sure to educate myself as soon as I got home. And that, my friends, is the completely gratuitous story of how I found Moth.
As we all know, moths aren’t the most charming creatures on the planet. They’re drab, icky, and just straight up irritating if they get trapped in your dorm room (trust me, I’ve been there). However, according to an interview with Pitchfork.com, Chairlift was inspired by the insect because it is the perfect metaphor for vulnerability. Much like the band’s experimental music, vocalist Caroline Polachek said a moth “… goes towards the light; it beats its wings until it dies. There are risks everywhere, but it doesn’t question them.”
The synthpop duo originated in Brooklyn, New York in 2006 and currently operates in New York City. Masterminded by Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly, the band’s original purpose was to provide background music for haunted houses. Once they reached their initial success with their 2008 debut album Does You Inspire You, they were touring with the likes of Phoenix, MGMT, and The Killers. Something followed in 2012, and their third and most popular LP Moth launched on January 22, 2016. Before I go on, I encourage you to check out the band’s earlier work by listening to “Bruises” and “I Belong in Your Arms.”
This was a tough call, but my top three songs from this album are “Ch-Ching,” “Polymorphing,” and “Moth to the Flame.”
The pulsating bass of “Ch-Ching” immediately caught my attention because it oddly reminded me of the slick beat of Beyoncé’s “Partition.” Shockingly, Chairlift and Queen Bey have collaborated in the past. In fact, Beyoncé and her sister Solange are big fans of the duo, allowing Chairlift’s sexy “No Angel” track to appear on Bey’s legendary self-titled album. With such sultry basslines and brass flourishes, I wouldn’t be surprised if Beyoncé helped write “Ch-Ching.” Inspired by city life in New York, the lyrics
“Getting what you want can be dangerous
But that’s the only way I want it to be
I double dare you to keep a secret
And pass it back under the table to me”
express the feeling of getting lucky and just rolling with your good fortune.
“Polymorphing” is a little more relaxed with a jazzy, almost trippy feel. It’s one of my favorites because it was influenced by the work of ‘80s popstars like David Bowie. I have to admire how cool and confident Polachek sounds as she rattles off a list of prescription medications in an otherworldly, sky high register with the lyrics
“Fill her up with serotonin
This song was definitely a bold choice, but it makes for an excellent strut song.
Last but not least, “Moth to the Flame,” which does a great job of bringing the moth imagery home, is Chairlift’s greatest and most danceable hit yet. I’m drawn to it chiefly because it has a similar energy to that of Grimes and Sleigh Bells’ music. It’s a little repetitive for my taste, especially with the lyric “I can’t help it I’m a moth to the flame” recurring several times over throughout the song, but the lyrics
“But every little pull at the end of the golden rope
Fills my foolish heart with foolish hope
That maybe you might feel the same
As if feeling the same was the name of the game”
never fail to win me over, along with the song’s overall feeling of being dangerously attracted to someone or something.
If you’re lusting after more kaleidoscopic pop in time for this dreaded Valentine’s Day, listen to Cults, Yeasayer, Neon Indian, Architecture in Helsinki, Beach House, and Twin Shadow.