Chairlift? The band from the iPod advert, right? Yes, but that's only part of the story. The New York trio - where else? - certainly have more in their repertoire than that song which, good as it is, sounds a little disposable in comparison with much of what else their debut album has to offer.
Essentially, there are two sides to Chairlift: they write both understated, slightly twee, ethereal pop songs that owe a not-inconsiderable debt to the 80s ('Bruises', sure, but even more so 'Planet Health') and darker, paranoia-infused efforts that serve to add a coating of salt to the sugar (the excellent 'Earwig Town', 'Make Your Mind Up'). Whichever approach they take, they basically sound like the midpoint between a slightly watered-down Cocteau Twins and the long-forgotten Midnight Movies, with a bit of Kate Bush thrown in for good measure.
Caroline Polachek's delicate, textured voice always impresses, floating around the mix and offering a strong counterpoint to their often intoxicating concoction of synths and guitars, the tone of her delivery riddled with a sense of pained pathos on the likes of 'Make Your Mind Up' and 'Somewhere Around Here'. At other times ('Evident Utensil', 'Planet Health'), the message might be less portentous but the vocal remains luscious all the same.
Trouble is, for all the cultured and meticulously layered arrangements and eminently listenable melodies on offer on Does You Inspire You, it's the kind of record that doesn't provoke the sort of lasting response you'd expect, at least not in this writer. Sure, once you've switched it off you'll remember the songs (just try shifting 'Bruises' from your head, unless it's been ruined for you already by that pesky ad), but there's nothing that'll make you feel all that much as a result.
In truth, it's an allegation you could potentially level at a few of these ultra-hip buzz bands (many of whom, of course, also share a Brooklyn postcode): the records sound undeniably great after a cursory couple of listens, but if you keep coming back for more it's unfortunately a case of diminishing returns. Beneath that attractive-sounding exterior lurks... well, not much in the way of a soul.
Maybe it's a sign of the times, maybe there's a bit too much emphasis on things sounding good at the expense of creating any genuine tension or emotional reaction these days; or, perhaps, we've just reached saturation point and Chairlift are unlucky enough to arrive at a time when bands need to be really, really special to measure up to the enormous mountains of hype. Alternatively, I might have just died inside. Whatever, this is good but not as great as it probably should have been.
7John Roberts's Score