Chairlift - Something (Columbia) 

Shapeless dreampop or empty stylistics?

Four years after riding a hype wave to an iPod commercial spot, versatile singer Caroline Polachek and polite backgrounder Patrick Wimberly have evolved into a more conventional synth duo pushing across a self-consciously arty variation on beat-driven gen-X pop. It'd take considerable willpower to resist "Sidewalk Safari," which sounds like Annie Lennox powering through a Bond theme, or the moments when Polachek proves her voice can sustain itself through the stylistic pastiche: "Take It Out on Me" and "Met Before" allow their persuasive melodies to exist outside of the trend-hungry production all over this sophomore LP.

The rest of Something is so languid and skimpy on hooks that it's like waking up from deepest slumber when the real pop appears. These empty stylistics inevitably get dull after a time; the dabbling in trip hop, baroque, and shapeless dreampop is plenty convincing but too impersonal, seesawing between Kate Bush costuming and total Berlin cheese. With Alan Moulder's involvement, it's unsurprising that you can spend the duration picturing what an Anton Corbijn video for each cut would look like. If that sounds like a good time to you, have at it.

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More by Nathan Phillips

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