Release Date: Jul 2, 2013
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock
For their third album, About Group is still chiseling away at the niche they’ve created as a foursome, through a mutual love of experimentation, improvisation and pop songwriting. Of the four members, Alexis Taylor is not only the biggest name working on the project, but also the most easy to identify by the work on new album, titled Between the Walls. But despite Taylor’s unique voice, noticeable for anyone familiar with his work in Hot Chip, About Group has not taken off commercially in near the same respect.
About Group has always been an outlet for some of the wilder impulses of its members, and while there is still plenty of loose-limbed improvisation on Between the Walls, it continues Start & Complete's trend of bringing a little more order to the chaos. The band keeps its most disjointed experiments brief, like the shambling opening track "After Video" or the keyboard doodles of "Graph Paper," and focuses most of its energy on more structured songs. "Structured" is still a relative term, though; for Hot Chip fans here for more of Alexis Taylor, these songs might still be too unruly -- even the most experimental moments from Taylor's other band feel neatly gridded-out compared to the maelstroms About Group generates here.
Over the past few years, Hot Chip’s members have amassed an impressive array of side projects: there have been two solo albums by co-lead vocalist Alexis Taylor; his singing partner Joe Goddard is one of The 2 Bears, while guitarist Al Doyle and keyboardist Felix Martin created a fully-fledged band in the form of New Build. Between The Walls, the third album by About Group, is the latest of these extra-curricular activities, as Alexis Taylor teams up with This Heat drummer Charles Hayward, Spiritualized’s John Coxon and Derek Bailey cohort Pat Thomas to produce an album of improvisational jazz-rock. Side projects are always liable to be dismissed as peripheral exercises in titting about.
The story of About Group’s third album is an unlikely one in a number of ways, a surprise that it exists at all. The super side project of, most notably, Hot Chip singer Alexis Taylor and Spiritualized’s John Coxon came together for the first time one day in 2009. By the end of that day, they’d finished their debut album for Treader Records, All Is Not Lost.
When you are in an indie dance pop band and you are feeling a bit free-form and experimental, what you do? Or, when you are a veteran of a cult experimental band and you are looking for some, erm, pop songs to play, what do you do? Well, you join forces with the other guy and form an experimental indie pop band, of course! And that’s just what Hot Chip singer/multi-instrumentalist Alexis Taylor and former This Heat drummer Charles Hayward did. About Group, as they came to call themselves, was rounded out by guitarist John Coxon of Spiritualized and Spring Heel Jack, and avant-jazz keyboardist Pat Thomas. About Group sound pretty much like you would imagine them sounding.
When it comes to super-groups, About Group aren’t exactly what springs to mind. But their keen sense of jazz/electronic experimentation certainly doesn’t lack intrigue. Comprising Charles Hayward (This Heat), John Coxon (Spiritualized), Pat Thomas and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, the side-project took up the About Group moniker for the release of their second album, 2011’s ‘Start And Complete’.