I've been listening to music of extremes lately. I alternate between Katonah by Apollo Sunshine which is a bubbly, kinetic, chaotic carnival that I've already reviewed in this blog and the Juno soundtrack which is full of soft, sad, freak-folk songs. I'm celebrating life changes but also kind of living in my own uncertainty, and along with the thunderstorms, this mindset it making my summer feel kind of damp and moldy.
This morning I came across the album Does You Inspire You by Chairlift, and it perfectly melded with my current mood. The music is sparse and very computerized, while the vocals and the lyrics are personal but sometimes cold in that dramatic 1980s poptastic way. It reminds me a lot of a more feminine version of the Magnetic Fields.
The album begins with the track "Garbage" which is a sleek, tongue-in-cheek ode to relationship garbage: both literal and figurative. The song has an upbeat tempo, but the lyrics are a bit of a downer. At first listen, I can imagine some kind of odd hybrid of Chrissie Hynes and Courtney Love in Chairlift's lead singer Caroline (no last name provided on their snazzy Myspace page). She's sometimes even-toned, even monotone, but then breaks into sad and angry octave shifts and sing-sighing on songs like "Territory" and "Don't Give A Damn". My favorite surprise on this album is the song "Bruises" which sounds like it should either be a depressing account of physical/emotional abuse or something emo/gothic in theme. Instead, "Bruises" is a snappy song that does discuss some emotional bruising, but in a very playful way. The lyrics: "I tried to do handstands for you, I tried to do handstands. Every time I fell on you, yeah, every time I fell..." capture a lot of emotion in statements that are kind of abstract. The song that directly precedes "Bruises" is called "Earwig Town", and it has a gothic feeling that might remind you of the song that plays while you ride through the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. The story that's told in "Earwig Town" is actually pretty gross, recounting the earwigs' residence in the singer's ear and then the laying of their eggs in her head (ewww). Moving on to something a little less disgusting, we find the song "Evident Utensil" which is actually really upbeat and campy. The "Evident Utensil" is a pencil, and the song ends up revolving around the rigors of writing.
The album Does You Inspire You isn't particularly creative in the music department. Most of the album could be labeled 1980s post-punk and pop, with the exception of the gothic "Earwig Town" and the folky "Don't Give a Damn". The creativity of Chairlift is expressed solidly in the lyrical content of the songs which bounce from a recitation of an ex-boyfriend's shit ("Garbage") to stories where the main players are earwigs and pencils ("Earwig Town" and "Evident Utensil"). I'm pretty impressed with the thematic breadth of the album, and I actually enjoy the musical shallowness. It's nice to listen to an album that isn't weighed down by it's own seriousness.