Electronic music sure has gotten weirder over the years. And as a result, it’s gotten a lot more interesting. While artists like The Presets and Cut Copy are refining and refreshing electronic pop’s framework, other artists like Black Moth Super Rainbow are slapping bubblegum and dynamite deep within their sequenced sound to create a gooey, chaotic mess that’s at times retro, and others, like a disturbingly ecstatic future. Chicago’s Chandeliers fall somewhere between these two alternate realities, buoyantly bouncing along with psychedelic robo visions, while maintaining an accessible and song-based vibe throughout the course of their debut, The Thrush.
With connections to both Icy Demons and Mahjongg (and recording in both bands’ digs), Chandeliers share sonic qualities with both, namely the former’s playful jazziness and the latter’s post-punk dub inflections. But where Chandeliers truly excel is in vibrant, Technicolor electro pop, punched up with the power of live drums. “Mr. Electric” kicks off The Thrush with a deeply funky analog sound, simultaneously meshing Atari 2600 and adult cinema textures, with a Boards of Canada-like synthetic sentimentality that makes it even seem somewhat beautiful. “Maldonado” pops and flexes with flashy IDM pulsations, while “Mango Tree,” one of a handful of vocal tracks, spreads ethereality over its post-rock disco breakdown. The title track blares its strobe-lite fantasy throughout with minimal synthesizer flourishes, while “Big League” struts its spunky video game stuff sass and geekdom.
The line between the electronic and the organic on The Thrush is pretty clearly defined. The synthesizers sound like synthesizers, the drums sound like drums. And yet there’s something about the warm tones and fluid movements of the band’s melodies that suggest something beyond mere voice patches. Maybe the machines are starting to party on their own.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.