Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It's easy to make wild assumptions about anyone's love life, based on the songs that they write. Real or fictitious, they tell much about the kinds of amorous energies that they surround themselves with. They don't have to be ones that they're personally engaging in, but they're drawn to others who cannot be rid of them and they take great interest in where they come from and how they're going to react to them. Sweet and sad means one thing and dirty and blunt means something entirely different, when writing about love. We're still trying to figure out what energies Chairlift lead singer Caroline Polacheck surrounds herself with, but we have found that the best place to start is with the sensations that you can derive from he bewitching hour, after the drinks have been poured in, the sweat has soaked through, a crisp fog has descended and the true personalities are squirming to make their appearances. It's when fights happen. It's when love happens. It's when everything gets out of control or you just limp sadly home after a food cart quesadilla. It's something of a put up or shut up time, when all of the cards are laid out on the table and someone's either raising or folding and walking away from the table. The split decisions are being made - those that are so memorably regretted so quickly thereafter - or those that are going to irk you and linger with you until you're clawing the walls for sunlight.
Polacheck and bandmate Patrick Wimberly have quite simply outdone themselves with their latest album, "Something," poised to be at or near the top of heaps of year-end lists this coming December. It's a record that exhibits incredible craftsmanship in making a Fleetwood Mac record for a dance club that exists to take in all the shivering, pretty and insecure rabbits at the ends of nights, when they want to go home, when the very need to go home and fall into some familiar arms cannot be the best thing for them. They know what's waiting for them there. From here it looks like a wolf and they know that they've seen the wolf before, but they argue that the wolf isn't trying to hurt them and doesn't hurt them all the time. Tonight will be one of the good nights. They always believe that. Polacheck's lyrics are so unusually dark, but they can't help being dreamy at the same time. They are full of what sounds like potential forgiveness, even when it seems that the person they're coming from isn't the one who needs to be apologizing for whatever might or might not have happened previously.
A betting man would put a lot of money on the thought that there's been a heaviness surrounding the characters in songs such as "Take It Out On Me," where Polacheck sings, "Forget forgiveness/Forget all the rules/Just please don't do it here/Bring on the fire/Cause business is cruel/And Sophie's got somewhere to be/Take it out on me." It's about some kind of discreet abusiveness that she makes sound chic and acceptable, the woman in the song, not all that unlike the passionate, but emotionless qualities of the woman in Lana Del Rey's "Video Games," singing adoringly to the man cracking beers, ignoring her, wishing she was nastier and still having her wrapped around his grimy little finger. Each song on "Something" is another brilliant tale of this one-sided relationship that the woman impossibly doesn't see as anything at all like that. It finds a way to be spectacularly moving, perhaps in its depressing undertones or just because this is what it is to be normal. It's that myth of love as it drawn from the pit of a night.