Chairlift – “Amanaemonesia”

“Chasing the rabbit”… and then some.

So I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus as of late. I could say it’s because the semester started, and this weekend was the first home football game, and I have work for classes already, but the truth is, I just haven’t felt much like writing. It’s not that I’m blissfully happy or anything, but rather that I’ve found a comfortable groove that revolves around being busy and building relationships and not caring what anybody else thinks. It sounds trite, but, well, /shrugs/

Then this weekend, one of my favorite music blogs, Disco Naïveté (link out on the side), posted a video by the band Chairlift. The band released their sophomore album, “Something,” early this year, and there’s a beautiful track on it called “I Belong In Your Arms.” For kicks (well, I’m guessing that’s the reason), the band released a Japanese version of the track. I don’t mean that they added ambiguously Asian instrumentals or anything—Caroline Polachek actually sings in Japanese, in what I can only assume is a close translation of the original English lyrics. It’s an interesting tune to listen to, as someone who used to listen to a lot of Jpop and Jrock and the like, and the music video’s pretty trippy/’90s/hilarious?/weird.

That said, if it weren’t for DN, I wouldn’t have listened to anything off of “Something.” Like, ever (sorry not sorry, TSwift).

I had a boyfriend in high school with whom I was head-over-heels for, and if I had to summarize our relationship in a song, it’d probably be “Bruises” by Chairlift (yeah yeah, it was used in an Apple commercial). It is, at first (and second, and third, and etc…) listen, a sweet male/female duet about two people in love, doing not-so-smart things but being happy because they’ve got each others’ backs, she’ll fall for him and he’ll put frozen strawberries on her bruises, awwww, caaaan you feel the looooove tonight?!

The answer is NO. While the relationship went kaput, my overly romanticized attachment to the song didn’t, and I continued to listen to it all the time, usually whilst simultaneously sighing and staring wistfully into the distance. It’s a permanent mental link to that boy and to all the fun and fury associated with that relationship, and so while I wouldn’t say it was masochistic of myself to listen to it as often as I did, it did keep me from listening to Chairlift’s new stuff, because what could POSSIBLY overshadow the swoony goodness of “I’m pink and black and blue for youuuuuuuuuuu?”

Side note: my friend Diane (link out on side) saw Chairlift in concert, and she said that they didn’t play “Bruises” even though it’s their most recognized song. Apparently the male voice in the duet left the band, and thus, no more “Bruises.” Art, imitating life?! I’m done.

SO, I was playing Chairlift’s new album because of DN’s post, and my apartmentmate walked over and was like, “Oh, what is this? It’s really good.” I told her it was Chairlift, and she went “Really?! But they did that awful song ‘Bruises’-”

PAUSE. WHAT. I chewed her out for hating on the song that was my ~~*high school romance anthem*~~~, but then she brought up a couple of good points. Like, uh, the girl in that tune is repeatedly hurting herself, even if only metaphorically, in comparing the fall for a dude to bruises. Relationships shouldn’t be based on bruises, right? And then, it’s sweet to the point of being treacly, and the entire song sounds like an exaggerated swoon, and it’s so trifling in its feelings. For YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU~~~ (note: I actually do like Polachek’s voice, but even so… yeah, I get it).

Also, in her opinion, the guy’s voice is “dumb.” I’ll suss that up to subjectivity.

And that’s how I severed my emotional ties to “Bruises.” So now let’s talk “Amanaemonesia”!

Out of all the tracks off of “Something,” I like “I Belong In Yours Arms” (creepy undertones aside) and this one the most, but “IBIYA” is the less weird one out of the two so I thought I’d tackle this one instead. First of all, the name: “amanaemonesia” isn’t a real word, but obviously there’s a base of “amnesia.” In this Internet answer, someone wrote that “amanae” is a sort of New Age massage technique that focuses on “emotional release.” S/he postulated that amanaemonesia, then, was some sort of willed forgetfulness that caused elation. Like Jessica’s mental wipe of Hoyt during this season’s “True Blood”! </spoiler>

The song opens with a staccato bass line, but waves of electronic shimmer quickly start to take over the song. Polachek’s voice is thin and wispy as it goes up in the register, and she usually defers to that part of her range, but in this song, she brings her voice lower, and while it isn’t really steady in its lowness (compared to someone like, say, Imogen Heap), it’s interesting to hear her tackle it.

That alone isn’t the part that makes the tune intriguing—the chorus is where the fun is, even though the lyrics and delivery in the verses are pretty neat (“You lost your focus but I got a plan for it”); Polachek’s voice glides over the question “Is it amnesia?“, and she follows it up with a singsongy, rolling-off-the-tongue pronunciation of “Amanaemonesia,” setting up the chorus to be a melancholic ode to memory.

She doesn’t know what’s happening, but hey, it’s all so cheerful, does she really want to know? The Internet speculates that the song is about drug use, which makes sense of some of the lyrics, like “Chasing the rabbit” (Alice odes will never get old), or rather, makes the senselessness of some of the lyrics make more sense (“Just leave alone the Geminis“?). The drug overtones make more sense when you watch the music video too.

The male verse toward the end of the tune sounds like something taken from MGMT’s second album, which is good or bad depending on how much you liked “Congratulations” (I veer toward “good”), and lend to the kind of twisty, psychic sounds vibe of the overall song.

It’s a fun listen, and a good way to dip into Chairlift’s stuff. “Does You Inspire You” is a decent album on its own, but “Something” has more of a collective sound, and “Amanaemonesia” is a solid introduction to the band’s musical offerings.

Of course, I might be biased. “Mistaken for magic,” indeed.

(Image: Temporary Trees by RAW COLOR via razorshapes)


One thought on “Chairlift – “Amanaemonesia”

  1. i was really amused at the concert by the requisite handful of middle-aged dudes who appear at every indie concert, especially cuz they were pronouncing it “amnesia” with the greatest conviction possible. heh

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