Friday, 5 June 2015

Album Review:Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?


There is something to be said for the slow-burning, hard-won success, rather than overnight fame.
For over a decade the Hot Chip have been a consistently great live act, along with string of strong albums behind them seemingly gaining wider popularity with each one with a style that brings together LCD Soundsystem's wordy indie dance music, with Prince's funk and love of classic pop and electronic music. Since 2004's Coming on Strong the band have hardly put a foot wrong and have even managed to bother the UK charts with some of their bigger singles like Ready For The Floor.

With the group's sixth album Why Make Sense?, which has a title that is surely a nod to Talking Head's concert movie Stop Making Sense, Hot Chip are starting to feel like an established part of the British music scene, more so than just about any other band that has emerged over the last ten years.

Huarache Nights kicks of the album, with Hot Chip in dance floor mode. Built around a chunky bass sound, Alexis Taylor's familiar soft, soulful vocals enter, though vocoder vocals provide the big hooks, as robot voices chanting 'Replace us with the things that do the job better' hinting at an automated future. Why Make Sense? starts with a big dance track, but it's not the best representation of the sounds of electronic soul and funk that lies through the albums heart. The following track, Love Is The Future, with it's playful, retro synth chords bouncing about a light shuffling beat show more of the influence of late 70's and early 80's. The group even fit in a guest verse De La Soul’s Posdnuos before the chorus emerges for the song's finale, backed by disco ready strings, a sound which reappears throughout Why Make Sense?.

Started Right has a keyboard sound straight out of Superstitious era Stevie Wonder, as the band prove to be as versatile in taking cues from measured pop as they do with obscure dance records.
In fact the band seem to shine in merging disparate sounds into a coherent, catchy whole as tracks like Easy To Get effortlessly mixes up guitar funk before acid bass lines take over for the songs outro or the album's title track, which seems to carry echoes of prog rock and Brian Eno's early solo records with its huge drum stomp and building synthesizer arpeggios.

The band's second single from the album, Need You Now, might well be one of the band's best single to date. The track is equal parts a throw back to classic house euphoria whilst not sounding too far away from the likes of Disclosure. Set around an irresistibly powerful vocal sample from Sinnamon 1983 track I Need You Now for the album's big hook whilst Taylor's vocals compliment perfectly with a quiet desperation in the verses.

It's the personal and simple messages that stand out on an album that is a little leaner than a lot of their other releases and better for it. Touches of other influences emerge all over Why Make Sense? but the is a sense of honesty and a lack of cynicism that Hot Chip have kept throughout their career, that helps set them apart.

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