Photo by Tim Barber.
Chairlift may take four years in between each of their records — a luxury provided by major-label backing — but they’ve been far from idle. Wimberly stays busy mixing (Empress Of, Tune-Yards), remixing (TV on the Radio, Nite Jewel), and producing (Das Racist, Fort Lean, Kelela) records for other artists, and Polachek spent much of 2014 in support of Arcadia, the debut release of her solo project Ramona Lisa. They also famously produced a track, “No Angel,” for Beyoncé’s blockbuster self-titled album, an experience that breathed some new life into their songwriting process, and inspired Polachek’s approach to the vocals for Moth. In an interview with The Verge, she admits that the new record is more “physical,” and that it was inspired by the “body and power” of Beyoncé’s vocals on the track they wrote for her. “I wanted to be able to make more actual, physical sound with my own body, which I’d never been able to do before,” she said. “One of the goals we had when we started the record was making music for the body in a way we hadn’t done before.”
One of the more obvious expressions of this sentiment is in Moth‘s music videos; “Ch-Ching” is essentially an extended solo dance video, zeroing in on Polachek’s interpretive dance moves, choreographed by Korie Genius, and the Chungking Express homage the band made for “Romeo” is a frenetic rush of painted light. The song itself is inspired by the Greek myth of Atalanta, the goddess who would challenge potential suitors to a footrace for her hand, slaughtering the losers. But each of the record’s 10 tracks seems well-suited to movement, even the slower parts: it’s not hard for us to imagine peering through a scratched subway window, watching that woman crying on the train as it pulls out of the station.
On Something, Chairlift sounded fully realized, an ascendant band grasping control of its aesthetic, outgrowing the stigma of the very literal commercial success of its biggest hit. On Moth, they’re still the same band, just a more refined and sophisticated version. They’ve passed through the flame, been burned, and lived to tell the tale.