Hot Chip : In Our Heads
The opening track to In Our Heads, the song Motion Sickness, has the momentous air of the music that would accompany, say, a highlights reel of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee. There is a enormity and completeness to the sound of this song that acts as the perfect synopsis for Hot Chip’s most complete album to date.
The band’s fifth studio album In Our Heads heralds the London based five-piece as dance music adepts as opposed to the ‘unclassifiable’ eccentrics who produced the eclectic 2004 debut Coming On Strong.
Hot Chip’s ‘clubby’ sound is most evident on the song Flutes. It opens with a cut-and-paste African tribal chant laid over the top of a modulated and tonal beat that spins the song in a deep house direction for the opening two minutes. Interestingly, and something only Hot Chip could get away with, the song changes through the addition of vocals, live drums and guitar into a song Toto would be proud of. A vital ingredient of the shift undertaken during this song is the subtle strength of main vocalist Alexis Taylor’s falsetto.
Taylor’s vocal variability is vital in preventing this album being reduced to a beat-centric snorefest. Track four, Look At Where We Are, is the first ballad-like respite of the album where the vocals are the key ingredient. The multi-tracked chorus in which Taylor harmonises with himself would be as comfortable beside a campfire as it would be for a 4am slow dance: “Look at where we are/Remember where we started out/Never going to be without each other's love again.”
A strength of Hot Chip’s songwriting for listeners has always been their ability to combine heartfelt sentiment with a style of music – electronic dance music – that often struggles to sit comfortably beside sincerity. Their earliest example of this ‘emotional disco’ was Crap Kraft Dinner from Coming On Strong, and another example is their fan favourite Boy From School. The song on this album that treks this difficult territory of meaningful dance music is the already mentioned Motion Sickness. The song’s proggy elegance and its profoundly delivered lyrics of “remember when people thought the world was round,” allows the listener to access regret and hope simultaneously by harking upon those seminal moments in our lives that make sense of it all.
Whoa… things just got way too deep. To pull me out, I will just listen to the first single from this album – the bounding an energetic Night & Day.
In Our Heads has its heart firmly on the dance-floor but a lot of heart all the same, making it a most fulfilling listen.
BY DAN WATT
Best Track: Motion Sickness
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In A Word: Momentous