Caroline Polachek from Chairlift explores the pain and pleasure of love on Pang | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Caroline Polachek from Chairlift explores the pain and pleasure of love on Pang 

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click to enlarge Caroline Polachek

Caroline Polachek

Courtesy the Artist

Caroline Polachek might be the queen of crushes. As half of the synth-pop duo Chairlift, she wrote cheeky sleeper favorites such as “Crying in Public” and “Bruises” in the late 2000s, before branching out into solo work, taking opera lessons (inspired by a Handel aria in the soundtrack of the 2009 Lars von Trier film Antichrist), and providing guest vocals for artists such as Blood Orange, Charli XCX, and Sbtrkt. In 2014 she put out Arcadia as Ramona Lisa, and three years later she dropped Target Around the Arrow under her initials, CEP. Last year Polachek finally released her first album under her proper name, titled Pang. Coproduced by PC Music’s Danny L. Harle, it lands within the sweet spot of the singer’s previous work: its eclectic blend of electronic, ambient, and pop influences echoes Chairlift’s art-pop and laces it with baroque flair. At times, Pang feels like an operatic saga interspersed with upbeat interludes; most of the album’s standout tracks (“Ocean of Tears,” “Door”) combine synth-heavy beats with a big infusion of pop, and treat Polachek’s soaring vocals with a vocoder. The album chronicles the lifespan of a crush—lust, love, letting go—and its name is an allusion to an arrow hitting the heart. On the title track, Polachek breathily sings of the first sparks between potential flames—“Into me / Pang, and I go / Into you / Pang”—and the games begin. Pang beckons listeners to dance through the mental gymnastics of a new relationship, dipping into moods such as euphoric surrender (“Hit Me Where It Hurts”) and self-critical hyperfixation ( “Caroline Shut Up”) and culminating in postbreakup pining (“So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”). With an arsenal of lovelorn ballads that arc from initial giddiness to imminent heartbreak, Polachek draws back her arrow and takes aim.   v

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