Chairlift – Moth

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Chairlift – Moth

Released January 22nd, 2016 on Columbia Records

Singles:

Ch-Ching

Romeo

Something, Chairlift’s second album, was a pretty solid record and a lot of fun.  On the strength of singles like “Sidewalk Safari”, “I Belong In Your Arms”, and the purely Eighties-biting “Amanaemonesia”, it got by on charisma and peppy synth work.  That was four years ago.  Since then, the world has become somehow even more inundated with bold, peppy synth pop.  CHVRCHES happened, and then happened again.  Chillwave pillars like Washed Out and Neon Indian became akin to cliches.  So when Moth was released today, it came out into a sea of similar albums by similar bands.

To it’s credit, the front half is loaded with good songs, from the agitated funk of “Polymorphing” to the twin-barrel singles “Romeo” and “Ch-Ching”.  Then “Crying In Public” happens and you’re left feeling uncomfortable and vaguely embarrassed, which I suppose brings out the idea behind the song but also makes you wonder why this lazily histrionic ballad wasn’t left in the 1987-marked bin it was discovered in.  The back half is yawning mediocrity except for “Show U Off”, which rediscovers the fun of the first four songs.  Then it ends on “No Such Thing As Illusion” and I’m trying and failing to come up with a reason to feel any sort of way about it; ambient balladry only works if there’s something to hang onto, and the walls of that song are smooth and blank.

Moth is one of those very common albums in popular music:  you’ll find yourself singing along to the singles on the radio even while the album itself gathers dust.

Young Ejecta – The Planet

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Young Ejecta – The Planet

Sometime around 2009 the synthesizer became arguably the most important instrument in independent music.   Sure, synths have been big in hip hop and electronic music since time out of mind, but the rock and roll underground continued its guitar obsession long after most other genres had melded it back into an overall symphony of sounds.  Then chillwave came along, bringing with it any number of artists who felt more comfortable with samplers and synths than they did with the traditional guitar/bass/drum setup.  Washed Out, Neon Indian, CHVCHES, Chairlift, et al. brought the experimental ideas of synth-rock out of the 1980s and into the modern age, having washed off most of the cheese first.

Young Ejecta is actually the project of one of the members of Neon Indian – Leanne Macomber – and Joel Ford, who used to spend time in a duo with Daniel “Oneohtrix Point Never” Lopatin.  So, suffice to say that it arrives with an impressive pedigree.  Sadly, said pedigree doesn’t really translate out to impressive music.  The Planet, a “mini-album” that stretches out to nearly half an hour, doesn’t present anything new, vital, or exciting.  It’s quite honestly as close to generic Teens (what the fuck are we calling this decade, anyway?) synth rock as you can get.  It’s all very *nice*, and that’s its major stumbling block.  It’s pretty, the production is clean and gets you to nod your head in the appropriate places, it’s perfectly acceptable background music for doing whatever you do during the day, and that’s it.  Nothing more.  It’s boring.  Neon Indian had some experimental quirks, but The Planet plays it safe.  Chairlift and CHVCHES bust out maximalist melodic hooks, but there’s nothing of the sort on *The Planet*; in fact, there’s very little that’s memorable here at all, from a melodic standpoint.  It’s the synth-rock equivalent of a Theory of a Deadman album:  staid, by-the-numbers post-chillwave that doesn’t do much beyond try to catch the ear of people who’ve heard it all before and don’t want anything else.