Monday, March 01, 2010

Monkey grooms, blossom blooms

One Life Stand by Hot Chip

Hot Chip has created some of the most original, quirky, danceable electronic pop available today. Their albums The Warning and Coming on Strong are superb. Their last album, Made in the Dark, was a bit more inaccessible, and while I thought it had some standout tracks, the album as a whole did not hold up as well as past efforts. But with One Life Stand, the excellence is back.


The first single, the title track, starts with an 80s-style beat and moves into a fun-loving dance romp (complete with what sounds a bit like overly-synthesized steel drums). Having recently danced to this track at a club, I can say from experience that it is a mover.

"Thieves in the Night" features one of the most basic and thumping beats in the Hot Chip catalog. Alexis Taylor's trademark high-pitched singing voice takes center stage here, while the synth sounds pile on. While I love the melody of the verses, the key-changed chorus really stands out. And sometimes it is easy to forget that Hot Chip uses a lot of guitar, and "Thieves in the night features a solo or two with lovely results. "Happiness is what we all want. May it be that we don't always want." Love it.

"Hand Me Down Your Love" is simple dance pop, with a repetitive snare pounding, but then about a minute and a half in, the orchestral strings come alive and the melody picks up. Again, the band's knack for choruses saves the day.

And speaking of strings (or synthesized strings anyway), "I Feel Better" starts out a bit like a Timbaland excursion, but man! that beat does wonders, especially at the pre-two-minute build.

"Brothers" is silly, but lush and lovely. The song is a sincere ode to brotherly love, with references to knee-bouncing and Xbox and drinking. The subtle piano adds a great layer to this many-layered song.

"Slush" ventures into the weird Hot Chip territory, with the main melody provided by a loop of Taylor singing "Hum-a-na-hum-a-na-hum-a-na" under a down-tempo vocal. I am undecided on this one, but it is definitely Hot Chippy.

A beautiful, more straightforward pop song, "Alley Cats" features both Taylor and Joe Goddard, Hot Chip's other vocalist, singing, and also features a much less electro feel. In fact, the squeaking of the acoustic guitar strings can be heard prominently. I love this song.


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