Hit. Miss. Hit. Miss. Hit. Miss. And on it goes, etc, ad infinitum, Amen, praise Jeebus.
Such is the flipfloppery of The Hot Chip album.
Live, the five Revenge of the Nerds are absolutely unstoppable. And if you ever, ever have a chance of seeing them, do. At their last Vancouver show, we very nearly had to re-piece together the roof after their proverbial blowing off of it, and the band the next day claimed Van presented them the best audience of their North Am tour. On their website even.. Which, as we all know, equals commitment.
It’s certainly in my top 10 of the past 10 years, absolutely. And when mixmaster Joe Goddard humps his keyboard? (Okay, you gots to be there for that.) But the crowd love them some Hot Chip. And rightly so.
So I love Hot Chip. In a kind of k-i-s-s-i-n-g s-e-x-i-n-g c-a-s-i-o p-o-k-e y-o-u sort of way.
But I love them live and only like them on record. What’s not to like? They’re underdogs with goofy lyrics and a blender full of wonky references including Stevie Wonder, monkeys with miniature cymbals, German techno, handbag house, arms-aloft early ‘90s dancefloor classics, smiles, calculators… and on this album, steel drums and lots of “pew pew” noises. On here, the swooshy single “One Life Stand” (romantic!), the totally Ibiza Lite-softly-softly sundown raveup of “I Feel Better” and the happy house of “We Are Love”, all glisten. “Take It All In” has some background Broken Frame-era Depeche Mode bleeps, then crescendos into a sort of 70s sunshiney glow. “Thieves in the Night” is a singsong awaiting its live moment, when it revs up and the place – inevitably – goes bonkers. You can dance to these. You will dance to these. All HITS.
But the MISS-ness? One of the factors is, as Editors’ Tom Smith pointed out in an interview with BSR recently, the fact that main singer Alexis Taylor’s voice “is the splitter”. It’s unbelieveably soft, so take it or leave it. And then there’s the saccharine issue. While this album marks a nice, grown-up turning point for the band in terms of presenting a real package of lyrics – it’s the first with a proper theme (love, girlfriends, friends, some more about love, friends, relationships) – that theme gets a bit 1950s weird after a while.
And for the love of gods, please remove tracks 5-7, starting first with the hymnal “Brothers”. It’s lovely, Joe, but dancing with your brothers? Giving your life for your brothers? Having a wild love for your brothers? Playing X-Box with your brothers? Huh?
Okay, it’s sweet. And Hot Chip should be forgiven. But not for “Slush”. Good title, chaps, spot on. Seriously, Alexis, you want the loop in this song to mainly consist of what sounds like you’ve gone off to a singing teacher to practice your scales and all you could think of was to sing “Huminah-huminah” over and over? Are you looking down her shirt? Ack! Bring back “Over and Over” instead!
So, Hot Chip are, on occasion, maddening.
But as long as the hits are there, we can try to forget the misses. Miss them live, however, and forget it. \m/
Hot Chip’s new album “One Life Stand” is available now on EMI Music Canada. Check out their website for tour dates.