Many posts ago, I told everyone how the Ron & Fez show on SiriusXM Radio became a gateway to discover interesting music, whether it was something fresh and upcoming, or an uncovered gem from a classic artist of years’ past. While listening one afternoon, the show began by playing a track “Garbage“, from a band called Chairlift.
“Garbage”, from their first album Does You Inspire You, begins with this swollen and ominous bassline that immediately takes you miles away from where you are currently taking up space. More often than not, every time I hear this song, I am whisked away to being in the backseat of a yellow cab going over the Williamsburg Bridge that very first time I went to Brooklyn. Windows rolled down providing no help from the suffocating humidity that only a city can provide. With the air pummeling my face, it felt like I was a part of something much more bigger. I had never experienced that feeling as an adult.
I feel very few bands are able to have this power over the listener, but Chairlift was that band to me. In my opinion, they are one of the most important artists of the last decade.
When 2012’s release, Something, came out I remembered listening it while delivering mail on my route. I felt it was appropriate that the album kicks off with a track called “Sidewalk Safari” as I was personally pounding the pavement, but it took the jarring, percussive beat on the next song, “Wrong Opinion“, to whisk me away to that place that only Chairlift could bring me to. It was pretty close to an out-of-body experience. Jonesing for an immediate fix, I must have played that song a dozen times throughout the rest of my shift that day. The closing minute of that song will always bring me back to that first time on East Main Street listening on my iPod – completely amazed, mouth agape, and possibly putting the wrong mail in someone else’s box.
Continuing on, “I Belong In Your Arms” is perfectly performed pop. The punchy percussion pairing with the dance-y bassline from Patrick Wimberly help accentuate vocalist Caroline Polachek’s delivery to another level. “‘Cause the world goes on without us, it doesn’t matter what we do”, Polacheck states as she’s beginning to grab at your heart strings, “all silhouettes with no regrets when I’m melting into you”. By the time we get to chorus’ finish, it feels like the first time you had found the one.
As anyone who felt they had found the one, it is not always a carefree dance into each others arms – no matter how much you want it to be. Listening to “Cool As A Fire” takes me back to that time having a difficult and tense moment driving through New Hampshire while the song was playing in their car. It was one of the first tell-tale signs that things were slipping away. We were both fresh out of long relationships and we immediately found each other to be what we desired most at that time. When we were together, everything clicked. Like a horrible rom-com that’s playing in a hotel room because nothing else is on or worth watching at 2 in the morning, kinda click. As it would happen, time and the real world played their part and our relationship was over soon after that drive on that dreary gray day.
I think about this every single time I listen to this album.
But, there’s no heartache. No animosity. No blame. As enough time passed, I began to become extremely grateful to have lived those moments with them. Thankfully in a strange way, there has almost always been a distinct separation from the music and memories. It would be a massive loss if I were to associate this album with bad feelings and salty emotions. It also didn’t help that both of us had a lot of personal care to address and a healthy long-term relationship wasn’t ever going to happen. That was probably the toughest thing to admit.
In 2016, Chairlift would release their third and final album, Moth, a 40-minute showcase featuring some of the smoothest jams you have ever heard. Shortly after Moth‘s release, the duo would peacefully call it quits. As a final goodbye, Chairlift would embark on a farewell tour. I was fortunate to catch one of these shows at the Brighton Music Hall. With only three albums to work from, Chairlift nearly played everything they’ve ever released, and there was nobody standing still that April night in Boston. It sounds silly to say it was like going to a show where the band played only the hits, but it certainly felt that way, and it did for everyone else in attendance.
Chairlift would finish the show with just the two members on an empty stage. Patrick was playing an electric bass guitar while Caroline took the microphone. They would go on to perform “Met Before”, one of the more standout songs from Something. It was like you knew the two of them were leaving, but it wasn’t over for good, like there was that possibility that it could all happen again. But alas, it was over. Only the memories and Instagram pictures remain.
Have we met before, amongst the buzzing of billions? Clear like yesterday when you look at me and smile.
It seems like Chairlift were aware and had the ability to evoke such feelings through their music. All three of their albums hold a meaning to me, but Something was truly something else.