Hot Chip’s fourth album opens with a pounding four-to-the-floor kick drum; listeners could be fooled into thinking the follow up to 2008’s acclaimed Made In The Dark is a beat-driven techno record conceived in the underground clubs frequented by the band members as they hone their formidable DJ skills.
In typical Hot Chip fashion however, this opener, ‘Thieves in the Night’, suddenly twists and turns, introducing you to what is actually a more soulful sound – akin to Detroit’s famed soul (not techno) tradition.
Hot Chip have clearly made an effort to shape things up since their last offering: the abundance of live instruments, opposed to the normal ‘softsynth’ sound, is audible from the start. It gives the songs a refreshing jam session feel, worlds away from the more clinical sound fans are used to. This is best heard in ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’ whose acoustic rhythm track and piano stabs sound like a product of The Temptations.
‘Alley Cats’, with its melancholy vocal melody and understated accompaniment, suggests the band has focused on creating heartfelt pop songs, rather than experimental masterpieces. This is seen again in the title track, a number whose quirkiness is utterly infectious; it displays the band at its best, combining raw emotion with danceability.
However, the record is not without its flaws. More attention to concision would have helped the record keep focus. There are a couple of tracks that could have been cut without too many tears. ‘I Feel Better’ goes for the retro 80s throwback vibe, with synthetic strings and auto-tuned vocals, yet it ends up feeling dated, and dare I say, tacky?
Overall, the album’s well worth a listen – it’s undeniably toe-tapping, and the choruses will stay in your head all day, whether you want them to or not!