Though it was released in May of 2015, is it really too late for Cheers Elephant’s “Airliner” to race up the charts? There have been slow building hits in the past. Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” did not take off on its initial release, only catching on with radio months later. “Airliner” is certainly deserving of such late recognition. The opening verse is delivered with a compressed vocal sound that channels 1970s AM radio and holds the listener in check until the chorus drops with a killer hook. As the band drops out momentarily, a rainbow-like harmony vocal sustains a chorus of longing for escape from the mundane ground in favour of the ease of flight on an airliner. As the chorus laments, “I walk around kicking trash up off the ground and I say I want my seat on an airliner …” The graphic for the single riffs off the 1960s ‘flight as party’ motif recently re-popularized in TV shows like Mad Men.
“Airliner” is one of three singles released by Cheers Elephant in 2015. They have three prior albums, 2008’s Cheers Elephant, 2011’s Man is Nature, and 2012’s Like Wind Blows, all with strong material. I like particularly “6th and Girard,” “Party On Darwin,” and “Thoughts and Commonsense.” But their three most recent singles showcase a band hardening their sound into something distinctive and original. “Airliner” really should be their breakout hit single.