Shake a fist and clap your hands!
Its been interesting to see the media raction to the launch of Hot Chips new record ‘Made In The Dark’ and its fair to say that the band have now become one of the countries major acts with the weight of expectation being placed upon their shoulders. Magazine covers and broadsheet spreads are proof of the emergence of the band with many eyes and ears paying the band attention.
The first half of the album is the more energetic side, hitting the listener with an opening barrage that should ensure the upcoming tour has a collection of banging numbers to sit alongside the established material. Opening number ‘Out At The Pictures’ has some distinctive barking-like sounds, ‘Shake A Fist’ has the mid-track breakdown showcasing studio wizardry and sampling Todd Rundgren and ‘Bendable Poseable’ is the quirkiest and glitchiest song on the record.
By now, you’ve probably heard ‘Ready For The Floor’, the first single from the album and a recent radio and video smash and its been the perfect introduction to the record. Its too upbeat to be truly representative of ‘Made In The Dark’ but works tremendously well as a stand-alone track with more than enough hooks to draw people in.
‘Hold On’ is excellent and is a likely candidate for a future single with Alexis declaring he is only “going to Heaven if it tastes like caramel” and is one of the new songs that featured on the bands last run of touring. The repeated phrase of inviting someone outside sticks in the mind and the backing vocals seem to have reused the “hey” from the bands re-working of Amy Winehouses ‘Rehab.’ The Hot Chip boys definitely like a bit of violence, their last album was a warning of intent with lines about break your legs and snapping off your neck and even though they may look like the nerdy boys from school, they may just have that underlying fire and anger that would give them the edge in a bare-knuckle match-up. The band dont help themselves in this respect with some school-boy styled lyrics with ‘Shake A Fist’ having the memorable lines “ I move underwater, I eat what I slaughter’ but it works so well in the context of the song that you can forgive it. This and the reference to the macarena on ‘One Pure Thought’ are just two of the quirky and abstract lyrics that make giving the album an in-depth listen well worth it.
In interviews surrounding the launch, the band cited The Beatles white album as an influence and marker and after a few listens, its easy to see what Hot Chip were referring to. Over the course of the record there is a variety of strength and styles that may surprise some and certainly moves Hot Chip away from any electronia pigeonhole that some may have placed them in. In all fairness, the band have always had a lot more in their arsenal than has ben suggested but ‘Made In The Dark’ finally captures the essence of the band who wear their melodic pop influences on their sleeve as brazenly as they do.
Some of the critical response to the album has been slightly muted and whilst we can see what some reviewers point of view with the criticism, it appears that they may have jumped the gun a bit. On first listen of the new album, it seemed disjointed and lacking in oomph but as the week passed and the album was played over and over (like that monkey with the minature cymbal), its true qualities shone through offering much more than first thought. It still has a lot to do to match up ‘The Warning’ but that album has had a few years and countless live performances to steal a place in this writers heart and it’ll be interesting to look back on ‘Made In The Dark’ in a few years time and see how it compares.