A Pop Cyborg With A Human Heart

As the voice of Chairlift, Caroline Polachek crisscrossed indie and mainstream tastes. Her solo LP adds digital flex to that voice, melding real and "enhanced" performance into one penetrating force.
Caroline Polachek in the cover art from Pang (Oct. 18), her first solo release under her own full name. Source: Columbia Records

In its highest register, Caroline Polachek's voice sounds like it might have slipped loose from the circuits of a synthesizer. It lifts skyward on "Bruises," the breakout single from her former band Chairlift, which more than 10 years ago first got its hooks in listeners by way of an iPod commercial. The verse melody bobs up and down much like a jingle, a tune meant to inspire hunger and then evaporate, but the chorus tilts out of the stable grooves of advertising as Polachek unravels the word "you" across a chain of syllables, her head voice lithe and airy, sharpening the dramatics of what might otherwise have gotten lost in the glut of disposably twee songs offering escape in the Bush era.

Though the New York act — a trio at first, then just Polachek and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wimberly — signed to Columbia Records toward the start "indie girl" affectations of Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor and Feist, even as its falsetto flights gestured toward millennial pop icons like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera. In her nimble delivery, she unified musical spheres that were supposed to be diametrically opposed.

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