At an early ’90s Cocteau Twins concert in Denver, half-asleep and fully delirious, I drifted in and out of reality as strobe lights pulsed behind my eyelids, Elizabeth Fraser‘s voice wafted about my head, and driving rhythms and reverb held me firmly entranced in a surreal world.
This is my jumping-off point for Chairlift. The now-Brooklyn-based synth-pop duo (which actually has a Colorado connection, too, having formed in Boulder in 2005) brings many of those same ethereal qualities, though instead of heavily effected guitars creating a haunting, hypnotic hum, sweeping atmospherics, and locked-in beat, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly rely mostly on synthesizers. And rather than overload the senses, Chairlift brings a refreshing simplicity to a music that’s highly danceable, spacey, and hypnotic. Polachek’s vocals add a perfect lilt and bounce, something “natural” floating amid the programming.
While Chairlift’s not a dance floor staple yet, their song “Bruises” was featured in the 2008 commercial that launched the iPod Nano’s fourth generation. With my Cocteau Twins memories revived in Chairlift, I now wonder whether the giant snowflakes slowly drifting downward after the concert were real — or just part of the trance. Let’s see what transpires after the Chairlift gig. —Glenn BurnSilver
(This article originally appeared in the Phoenix New Times.)