Review: Hot Chip/Made In The Dark

Saul Glasman 7 February 2008

Hot Chip are an enigma. Who are they, exactly? Are they really as awkward as they look in their videos? Is this anything to do with the fact that three of them went to Cambridge? What are they doing in those clothes? Questions like these will have to wait for an interview, but in the meantime rest assured that their unforgettable new album Made In The Dark leaves any such bafflement in a beaten heap by the wayside.

The bouncy, jocose album opener Out At The Pictures lays the band’s ability to write ultra-catchy, danceable music out on the table. It’s brilliantly poppy tracks like this one that give Hot Chip their unique licence to unexpectedly geek out into electronica in the middle of a rock song. But by the time the rickytick, clattering drum line of Shake A Fist kicks in, it’s clear that there’s still more going on. On the first single from the album, Ready For The Floor, Alexis Taylor sings about being prepared for rejection on the dancefloor. But a more fanciful listener might think that the persistent, jarring electronic chirp that underpins the song signals darker emotions boiling beneath the surface.

Cancerous gouts of techno rage erupt from the flanks of the otherwise merely melancholy Don’t Dance, and an uneasy undercurrent runs through even the beautiful ballads We’re Looking For A Lot Of Love and title track Made In The Dark.

‘I’m only going to heaven if it feels like hell / I’m only going to heaven if it tastes like caramel,’ sings Taylor on Hold On. And there’s the real enigma of Hot Chip; they’re heavenly and hellish in equal measure, but their music still tastes just like caramel and makes your pop receptors light up like sparklers.

Stunning pop music for the thinking person.

Saul Glasman