In another life Alexis Taylor could be sitting behind a grand piano in a cabaret bar belting out tender love ballads to wistful patrons on a cold winter’s night.
Fortunately that dimension has yet to be breached. He’s moored on a deserted island with the rest of Hot Chip, where they’ve been left to roam free, foraging a seamless jungle of ideas which have sat on laptops and the like in bedrooms, and now, in the live studio. The end result is a triumphant genesis of head spinning musicianship and pop melody, in other words, what Hot Chip do so well.
After the first cursory listens you really notice the ballads and power anthems which make up the album. As they tend to sit on the latter half it seems to trail away on the first few spins. Rnb creeps in for the first and strongest of the ballads, We’re Looking For A Lot of Love. Touch Too Much is a harmony laden anthem. The title track is more downtempo, belying Taylor’s soul influences. One Pure Thought’s power riff is bright enough to deceive itself as mid-’90s indie before it drops into afrobeat fused with synths.
That is quite a contrast to the upbeat fashion in which the album comes to life. Out At The Pictures charges at you like B52s hiding in a San Pedro cave on a mescaline trip. Shake A Fist dances round the fire with its tribal chants. A delightful Todd Rundgren sample: “Before we go any further I’d like to show you all a game I made up. This game is called ‘Sounds of the stoodio,'” then releases a barrage of electro smashery.
Ready For The Floor returns to that wonderful creche of melody of Boy From School – it ought to be part of the curriculum in South London and then perhaps there will be peace in our time. Bendable Poseable also skirts back to wonky electro territory from The Warning, though with an air doom in its A Clockwork Orange theatrics, and by the mere presence of a Yardie rapping on it.
Al Doyle’s wah-wah pedal turns the low thud of Hold On into a gloopy electro house stormer, sprinkled with whizzing, razor pulsing effects which clot here and there. Wrestlers is a tongue in cheek R&B number which manages to rhyme wrestling moves with Willie Nelson. Don’t Dance gallops and marches with a menacing air as the band call out from their hiding spots in the bushes, bubbling to a twisted electro monster at its climax.
It closes in soft style, Whistle For Will a dreamy melange of synth and Taylor’s most serene moment, melting perfectly into In The Privacy Of Our Love. Whilst this isn’t the album many may have expected, it should match their hopes in a different and, ultimately, fulfilling way.