After 2006’s excellent ‘The Warning’ Hot Chip released the curious and slightly disappointing ‘Made In The Dark’; a record where they seemed determined to underplay their obvious commercial potential. Thankfully the band have embraced pop again and core members Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor are fast becoming one of the finest songwriting double acts of this century. Exhibit A being their new album ‘One Life Stand’
The album begins like a singles collection. ‘Thieves In The Night’ is set to bouncy electronica and a disco-worthy groove. Then we have ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’, where beneath its rather cheap house piano motif lies a beautifully lovelorn chorus. ‘I Feel Better’ is based on the contrast between some autotune vocals and Alexis Taylor’s white soul choirboy routine. These kind of tunes would deserve shouts of “sell out” were it not for Hot Chip’s genius way with an original hook. Even right at end there’s the towering ‘Take It in’, which manages to sound both danceable and effortlessly cool at the same time.
Not that Hot Chip have totally succumbed to their quest for pop’s holy grail. There are songs here which wouldn’t work as singles but help to make a good album great. ‘Alley Cats’ is one of those tracks hidden away towards the end of the record that reveal the sensitivity at the heart of Hot Chip’s best songs; Taylor and Goddard’s vocal interplay here is genuinely shiver-inducing. Likewise, ‘Slush’ is a ballad so disarmingly simplistic it makes a mockery of their “electro geek” image; where only the inclusion of steel pans (actually a well-used instrument on this album) mark it out as quirky.
Forget those occasional bursts of greatness which come from the Xenomania team, ‘One Life Stand’ is a great album from beginning to end. Pop music doesn’t get much better than this.
Clor, Hot Chip, Junior Boys