Chairlift's 2012 album Something was a shiny slice of modern pop that featured Caroline Polachek's dramatic vocals running wild through a slick backdrop of synth pop and icy R&B-influenced beats provided by Patrick Wimberly. After taking time to work on a follow-up, the duo delivers an album that amplifies the pop aspects of Something and blows it out into a sometimes brilliant listening experience. While Wimberly's skill at crafting really hooky arrangements and coaxing nice sounds out of an array of synths has grown, Polachek is still the undisputed star of the show, as her swooping, sweeping vocals dance across the mix like multi-tracked imps. She comes across like she's having all kinds of fun, which transmits a level of joy to the listener that's hard to ignore. Even if said listener is inundated with shiny, R&B-based pop, as is anyone who has access to a radio or the Internet in 2016, there's something about the way Chairlift operate that helps them to stand out just enough to truly shine. There are definitely quite a few great songs, like the pulsing "Romeo," which comes with a rousing, montage-friendly chorus, and the insistently catchy, radio-ready "Moth to the Flame," which would have sounded good sung by just about anyone. Polachek's vocal gymnastics give them the little boost they need to become something special. Her playfulness and light touch can even turn the less successful songs, like the pleasantly corny "Ch-Ching," into something worth adding to a playlist. They don't spend much time on ballads; only the opening "Look Up" and the album's penultimate track, "Unfinished Business," bring the tempo and mood down. Polachek doesn't tone her vocals down much, squeaking and squealing on the latter like a baby Björk. It's a little jarring, but not too much. The album-ending "No Such Thing as Illusion," which rolls and tumbles magically like a weird mix of Arthur Russell and Michael Jackson, more than makes up for the slight misstep that precedes it. The rest of Moth works really well too, hitting a sweet spot between modern pop simplicity and mildly arty weirdness that only a few of the many practitioners of this sound can consistently hit.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra