Tuesday 24 April 2018

Hot sounds for our hearts and our feet

Album of the week
hot chip
In Our Heads

Oddball Londoners: A
new label for Hot Chip
Oddball Londoners: A new label for Hot Chip
John Meagher

John Meagher

I'm not afraid to admit it: I got Hot Chip all wrong. When I first became acquainted with them around the time of their second album, The Warning, I imagined they would be a passing fancy, a sort of crossover indie-dance band chiefly designed to wow those oh-so-fickle hipsters.

But when I allowed that album time to percolate, it soon became apparent that there was much to get excited about. And so it's been ever since, even if the Londoners' adventures in hi-fi haven't always been a success.

In Our Heads is their first album on Domino, having parted company with EMI after their last album One Life Stand didn't perform as well as expected. Intriguingly, the label is a former workplace for Alexis Taylor, the frontman -- or, more accurately, anti-frontman -- of the quintet.

Whether they feel liberated by the change of record company or not, there's no doubt that their music has benefited enormously. Taylor's singular vocals will continue to polarise opinion, but the ability of Joe Goddard and friends to make music to appeal to both the heart and the feet is improving all the time.

Several tracks are indebted to the sound of the 80s, none more so than the spectacular Don't Deny Your Heart, which is arguably the finest song Hot Chip have yet penned. It sounds like Chic, David Bowie and Duran Duran rolled into one and its glorious guitar-and-synth finale is wonderfully life-affirming.

Elsewhere, the band draw inspiration from New Order -- especially their late 80s incarnation -- with songs like the tender Let Me Be Him recalling Bernard Sumner's ability to pull on the heartstrings despite a wrapping of Balaeric beats.

Thankfully, the eccentricities that have characterised each Hot Chip album to date remain intact and that's certainly the case with one of their more obviously dance-oriented tracks, Flutes, all repetition and quirks. It's almost eight minutes long, but so engaging is it, and so clever its construction, that you wish Taylor and Goddard had thrown caution to the wind and let it last even longer.

Several bands, including Blur and The Specials, will perform at a special "Best of British" concert to mark the close of the Olympics, but were the organisers more daring, they should have included these oddball Londoners who have hopscotched playfully through a myriad of genres but have retained an indefinable sense of Englishness all the way.

Key tracks Don't Deny Your Heart; Flutes; Let Me Be Him

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