Ramona Lisa – Arcadia


When Caroline Polachek first dropped the title track from her debut album as Ramona Lisa a friend and fan of her Chairlift project immediately dismissed the title track as “avant-garde nonsense” followed by some insulting emojis to help illustrate just how disappointed he was. That tease however was hardly representative of the full album.

Recorded on tour in hotel room closets and airport lounges using only a laptop Arcadia isn’t the avant-garde mess my friend imagined it would be. Instead it’s the vocalist from Chairlift exercising some quality alone time to make an organically personal album devoid of outsiders.

Don’t worry Chairlift fans: most songs reveal themselves as either sketches Polachek would’ve brought to Patrick Wimberly or fully formed compositions that could be Chairlift. For instance “Backwards & Upwards” and “Dominic” both feel like they’d be considered for the band’s album number 3.

But there is also a smattering of the experimental. The title track is neo-classical weirdness with clanging bells and snaking synths escorting her nebulous voice. And “I Love Our World” is a borderline field recording comprised of chirping birds blooming synths cellphone noise and help-desk bell-ringing.

Arcadia might not be ideal for anyone whose entry point was listening to Chairlift’s “Bruises” on an iPod ad but it’s also not impossible to enjoy if your favourite work by Polachek is Beyoncé’s “No Angel” — which Polachek wrote.