Black and Blue

These days, there are few better ways for a band to achieve instant recognition than by having a song featured on a TV commercial. And when said song happens to be hyping a product as ubiquitous as the iPod, well, that recognition is pretty much bound to be bountiful.

So it was a lucky stroke for the Brooklyn trio known as Chairlift when Apple came along and snatched up the group's nifty little "Bruises" to help launch the fourth-generation Nano. To be paired with something both pocket-sized and chromatic is one thing; to receive such continuous airplay ensures that the one thing will lead to many others. Hell, even the YouTube clip of the ad has been viewed more than a million times.

Be that as it may, "Bruises" would not have left such an, um, indelible mark on the world had the song not been catchy enough to get our attention and resounding enough to break somebody's heart. I can't recall when I first heard the tune, but I can remember what it did to me, and it was nothing short of astounding. Had I been a different man, I would've wept, especially upon hearing the way Caroline Polachek's voice broke over the last "blue" in the first verse. As you know, the coolly throated singer was reminiscing about how her foolishly futile "handstands" would always end up in a fall and how every fall left her more and more bruised. It's a beautifully poignant metaphor, and Polachek renders it with uncommon candor. By the time Aaron Pfenning whispered in with his own side of the hard-luck love story, I was hooked — and broken.

Immediately, I sent out the song to all the dames I've loved before. Some wrote back; some didn't. And those who did fully concurred with my assessment. This song was something else indeed. But even so, that fact was less important to me than the thrill I received simply from letting the track speak on my behalf and to allow it to say all the things I never seem to have the courage to say.

Now part of a thriving New York avant-pop scene that includes MGMT, Yeasayer, and Mixel Pixel, Chairlift is riding a very heady wave. And although its debut LP, Does You Inspire You, features some equally melodious little ditties, none of them is as distinctly dreamy — or as utterly damaging — as "Bruises." You might think differently, and that's your prerogative. Me? I'm too busy tending to my black-and-blue knees to care.

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John Hood