Hot Chip – [Album]

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Picking up where 2006’s The Warning left off, Hot Chip’s latest, Made in the Dark, finds the U.K. electro-rockers as danceable as ever.

Kicking off their third LP with “Out at the Pictures,” an upbeat guitar-heavy jive, Hot Chip gives us something that feels new, yet fits perfectly in sync with their repertoire. That feel remains true throughout the album where sonic experimentation and witty lyrics co-exist inside soft ballads and (what will become) dance club favorites. Made in the Dark does not build on The Warning, but rather serves as a logical extension of it.

The first single “Shake a Fist” features the group’s characteristic chanting and a light tambourine, with the band practicing an array of styles over the course of five-plus minutes. Hot Chip reminds us they have all the rhythmic sensibilities of CSS, and perhaps a greater stylistic command than contemporaries Datarock and Ghostland Observatory.

“Ready For the Floor” is almost as infectious as “Over and Over,” the mega-successful dance-track from The Warning, and bears the same ability to get lodged in your brain. (It’s already hit number six on the U.K. charts.) “Wrestlers” is also a definite standout, with its delicate piano-sounding keyboards. Perhaps Hot Chip at its finest, the song bridges between ballad and up-tempo number, resting heavily on wrestling metaphors like “the gloves are off,” “throw the towel in,” and “half nelson, full nelson, Willie Nelson.”

While the album’s ballads are less exciting, they’re easy to appreciate for their lyrical quality. The soft number, “Touch Too Much,” exerts perfectly tongue-in-cheek lyrics (“When you said it’s a touch too much I knew / I’d be walking home again”) disguised as delightful lamentations and issued through mellow vocals. The same can be said of “Hold On,” which features the charmingly complicated line “I’m only going to heaven / if it feels like hell.”

Led by primary vocalist Alexis Taylor, who’s joined by Joe Goddard, Felix Martin and Al Doyle, the now eight-year-old band delivers Made in the Dark as a highly listenable album that begs you to move your feet. Complete with handclaps, drum machines and funky guitars—and ripe with electronic experimentation—Made in the Dark is the perfect album to spin after you’ve completed playing The Warning at your next dance party.

Made in the Dark is out now on Astralwerks.

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