Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Dance
Few bands can fill a dance floor with melody, soul and electro intensity like Hot Chip. There's unguarded joy in the British quintet's mix of synthed-up grooves and pop songfulness on tracks like "Don't Deny Your Heart". Their communal vocals are always warm and nuanced, with leader Alexis Taylor merging Davy Jones' innocence with the mirror-ball yearning of Erasure's Andy Bell.
After 2010's relatively somber One Life Stand, Hot Chip's members resurfaced in side projects including the About Group, the 2 Bears, and New Build, all of which took different approaches to electro-pop but shared an almost tangible joy in music-making. It sure feels like some of that happiness rubbed off on In Our Heads, one of Hot Chip's most confident, joyous, and danceable albums yet; if the band's previous album was about how seriously they take the relationships in their lives, then this album explores how much fun they have in them. "Remember when we first heard the wall of sound?," Alexis Taylor asks on the soaring album opener, "Motion Sickness.
For me, I have to face the facts: there is no way I will ever see Hot Chip just as a really good synth-pop outfit. First impressions leave indelible marks, and the one I had with these guys was well… quite something. As a latecomer to the Hot Chip express, my first encounter happened upon viewing the “I Feel Better” music video which, as anyone who has seen it knows, is one of the most ridiculous set of images ever captured on film.
HOT CHIP play Sound Academy July 15. See listing. Rating: NNNN In earlier work, Hot Chip seemed like a dance-pop band making clever jokes about dance and pop. As they matured, it's more as if they're writing love songs to the genre, albeit from a somewhat dejected standpoint. This might not seem ….
It's easy to forget that, when they first started out, Hot Chip operated with a devilish grin. "I'm like Stevie Wonder/ but I can see things," Alexis Taylor sang on "Keep Fallin'", from the band's 2004 debut, Coming on Strong. In the same breath he compared himself and compatriot Joe Goddard to Gene and Dean Ween: "We're like brothers who make records who can't play things." There was a boast about blasting Yo La Tengo from expensive cars, a heartbroken lament centered around prepackaged macaroni and cheese, and a cheeky proclamation about remembering Prince play with Vanity 6 when the narrator was still in diapers.
It was easy to dismiss Hot Chip when they first arrived on the scene. Their quirky image, odd vocalists and highly varied output initially suggested this was bunch of try-hards or - perhaps more fairly - one not ready for the success they achieved so early on. Yet over the course of their 5 albums, whilst many of the peers they had at the start moved from being influenced by bands of the past to merely aping them, Hot Chip have continued on their path and gradually found their own distinctive balance.
The theory that Hot Chip are ironists, blending diverse musical strands with a kinked eyebrow, has long been buried. Even so, their fifth album opens with a joyous rebuttal of such cynicism – a surging, synth-driven hymn to the possibilities of pop music. If nothing else here quite touches the heights of Motion Sickness, it's partly because, in keeping with that credo, they refuse to repeat themselves.
Is there a better title for a Hot Chip album than In Our Heads? For eight years, and four albums, these dorky Brits have made some of the most earnest, loving and wide-eyed—and not to forget, best--dance music, but you get the impression that they’d have problems articulating their feelings towards the lovers and friends addressed in their songs in person. From “And I Was A Boy In School” onwards, these guys have filled their songs out with subconscious-clearing lyrics, whether that meant dropping tons of wrestling references when trying to talk about a fraught relationship (“Wrestlers” from Made in the Dark), using a love of hip-hop language to seem tough to a prospective mate (“Over and Over” from The Warning) to groveling to make a sexual relationship permanent (“One Life Stand”). If there’s a band that is completely in tune with what is happening inside of its own head, it’s Hot Chip.
"Look at where we are," sings Alexis Taylor midway through Hot Chip's fifth album. "Remember where we started out." He appears to be singing, as is often the case, about a long-term relationship: almost uniquely in the world of dance music – not a genre famed for its way with a lyric about how nice it is being married – Hot Chip have a winning line in songs about the pleasures of domesticity and monogamy. But he could be singing about Hot Chip themselves.
What other band could transform a fondue pot’s worth of cheese into club-worthy gold? Making no effort to turn from their trademark sound (equal parts geek chic and smooth operator), the band sells the kitschy-thump sitcom-lite refrains of “Don’t Deny Your Heart” on the strength of their panache alone. By the bridge, it becomes difficult not to join the song’s built-in hypeman in a few grunts of approval. “Oh!” indeed.
Hot ChipIn Our Heads[Domino; 2012]By Harrison Suits Baer; July 18, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetFew bands can claim to be a subgenre unto themselves, but after becoming acquainted with In Our Heads, I am of the firm belief that Hot Chip has joined that category. Though it is merely a cautious step in the band’s evolution, it manages to highlight Hot Chip’s unique approach to the marriage of music and lyrics. It’s their most accessible and consistent album to date, and it doesn’t have a single weak track on it.
Hot Chip has gotten decidedly less hook-y and hilarious over the years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily, but it’s interesting to listen to this, their fifth proper album, and compare it to a band that once said it would “break your legs, snap off your head.” People grow up sometimes, and for a lesser group, that might equate with boring. Luckily, that’s not the case here.
Can a band ever have too many ideas? That is the novel question posed by In Our Heads, Hot Chip's fifth album. Clearly, these are men of unusual creative energies. Just look at their solo work and side-projects: New Build, About Group, 2 Bears; Alexis Taylor's lo-fi limited-edition album, Rubbed Out; Joe Goddard's transcendent dance floor anthem of 2011, "Gabriel." And that's before we get to their remixes and guest vocals.In theory, such activity is all grist to the Hot Chip mill.
Review Summary: A blip on their shoulder?As many women may tell you, men cannot multi-task. Here’s one for you bitter, cynical laydeez out there: it’s possible to both listen to In Our Heads AND exercise concurrently. If the mental image of a bearded, miserable Englishman sweating up a storm to Hot Chip’s fourth LP is akin to a Lovecraftian nightmare, then accept my most sincere apologies.Of course, music that you can quietly tone up alongside tends to be missing something.
Thousands of us have shared youth-defining moments of glory when we lost our shit during Hot Chip shows, probably at festivals, probably during ‘Over And Over’, the tune that broke them way back in 2007. Where does any band go as they feel those memories slipping forlornly into the distance?On their gorgeous fourth record, 2010’s ‘One Life Stand’, they followed the road marked ‘albums as coherent pieces’, which was an odd move in an age when attention spans have been so brutally shredded that doing less than three things at once feels like time wasted. In the two years since, individual Hot Chip members have continued their quest to remix every song ever recorded, and furthered their ongoing project to have someone DJing somewhere in the world at all hours of every day for the rest of eternity.
If we’re not including Hot Chip’s collaboration with Peter Gabriel for a cover of Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”– at least, not initially– the band’s multiple personalities are perhaps best represented by Reggie Watts and Lara Stone in the video for “Night and Day”. On the one hand, you have Watts’ inimitable sense of humor (say, “The Ass Attack” off 2004’s Down with Prince EP); on the other, you have a sleek, chic supermodel (One Life Stand’s “We Have Love”, for example). Their historical juxtaposition of “vintage Hot Chip” discordance, alternately tongue-in-cheek and somber lyrics, and beats that could burn out a dopamine junkie reaches Stone and Watts’ eventual yin/yang synergy more often than not.
Like fellow Brits Wild Beasts, Hot Chip has always dabbled in a world of disparate influences somewhat removed from the whims of current music. Most of the London electro-poppers’ colorful club anthems are equal parts Prince and Devo, a trapped-in-time combination of campy fun and star-gazing sincerity mined from ‘80s dance-pop. The lack of any substantial irony or snark is exactly why the boy band-skewering video for One Life Stand‘s “I Feel Better” worked so well: The song itself was painfully uncool, a relic of slick, ‘90s techno-pop that was more tribute than satire, and undoubtedly the labor of a band with a lot of balls.
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There comes a time where music is able to portray everything through pure driving sound; unforced and undivided, its attention spans images and more by way of fusing styles and methods. The right kind of blend is always when the sounds: finely layered and lushly ornate, combine with the story: delicately quirky and unabashedly heartfelt, for a particularly beautiful passage of music. For the last two albums, Hot Chip has been entirely nailing whatever aforementioned pure trait that would be – in terms of composition a swirling drive of instruments, beats, and treatments that never let up – and fortunately for the listener, a true kaleidoscope of gorgeous sounds.
Perhaps Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard and the rest of Hot Chip have had a recent run-in with cupid, because it seems that the British electro-pop group has written a love album. Yes, that Hot Chip, who sparked its early success with ironic and whimsical hits like “Over And Over” and “Ready For The Floor,” has cut out a few of the gimmicks to create In Our Heads, a more mature album that, while just as dance-y as past work, will add a little lovin’ to the dance floor. Not to say that it is your typical love album; there are no ballads, and it’s not really slow-dance friendly.
Hot Chip have always been able to, seemingly effortlessly, mix euphoric, colourful tunes with just the right amount of emotion and melancholy. On ‘In Our Heads’, their first LP for Domino, they’ve produced another record that is uniquely and superbly them.Reconvening after some extracurricular activity with their successful side projects the band sound as natural together as ever. In the build up to the album Joe Goddard spoke about wanting to make an enjoyable album “I want to listen to records by Luther Vandross.
Dance music with feelings; beats in cardigans… and Hot Chip through and through. Jen Long 2012 Do you remember the first time you saw Hot Chip? They were those dorky-looking men in interesting knitwear, probably singing about a monkey and a miniature cymbal. For a while quirkiness seemed their USP, but over time and a developing catalogue now stretching to five albums - not to mention nominations at the Mercury Prize and Grammy Awards - first impressions have become rather redundant.
Somehow, without anyone noticing, Hot Chip have been canonised. They have attained the enviable position of widely appreciated curios, part of an apparent tradition of mild English eccentricity. For many listeners they are the Devo we never had; a band that are, according to a recent piece in The Guardian, on their way to becoming "one of the great British pop groups." Since 2010's One Life Stand Hot Chip's members have been pursuing their own projects.