Album Reviews

Joe Goddard – Harmonics

(Domino) UK release date: 12 July 2024

A distinctive, often exhilarating third solo record from the Hot Chip co-founder, featuring an array of collaborators 

Joe Goddard - Harmonics It’s fair to say that Joe Goddard may well be one of the busiest men in showbusiness. As well as a founder member of Hot Chip (a band celebrating their 24th anniversary this year no less), he’s also a record label boss and a member of electropop duo The 2 Bears as well as countless other collaborative projects. Somehow, he also finds time to release solo albums, of which Harmonics is his third.

It does seems a bit of a misnomer to call Harmonics a solo album though. For a start, there are collaborators all over the record, including Alexis Taylor and Al Doyle of Hot Chip. There are also plenty of songs that you could imagine gracing a Hot Chip album. If there’s a worry that so many collaborators may disturb the focus of the album, that’s soon assuaged by the opening Moments Die. Featuring New York singer Barrie on vocals, it’s a blissful way to start the album, with Goddard’s voice blending beautifully with Barrie’s. It’s upbeat but also has that delicious air of melancholy that Goddard has managed to perfect throughout his career. That’s followed by the ecstatic rush of Progress, on which Ibibo Sound Machine bring their patented intricate afro-funk while Findia, a vocalist from South London, gives the soaring Europop of Destiny a bit of added gloss.

It’s not all party anthems though – there are also some welcome moments of introspection and experimentation scattered throughout Harmonics. Follow You, one of the few tracks with no guests, just Goddard on vocals, is beautifully reflective and sad, while Out At Night sees Goddard’s voice fed through a vocoder to create an odd, somewhat glitchy feel. Hayden Thorpe, formerly of Wild Beasts, lends his idiosyncratic voice to Summon, and sounds uncannily reminiscent of Anohni (a deliberate choice, according to Goddard). The track’s sleek, glossy synths, together with Thorpe’s vocal resemblance to Anohni, means it’s a track that could easily fit on a Hercules And Love Affair album. Mountains, which pretty much serves as the Hot Chip reunion as Alexis Taylor and Al Doyle guest, is ironically one of the weaker tracks, but Taylor brings his customary melancholic vocals to the song to give it some extra depth. At 14 tracks, Harmonics is a long listen, and it’s true that a bit more ruthless editing towards the album’s less impactful second half may well have paid dividends.

Yet, Revery ends the record on a high note, mainly thanks to the brilliant jazz musician Alabaster DePlume (who’s also featured on Sam Morton‘s album this year) – it’s a beats-heavy disco anthem that switches tack dramatically in its final two minutes, when DePlume’s clarinet enters and becomes ever more intricate towards the song’s close. It leaves you yearning for more Goddard/DePlume collaborations.

While there may be nothing to touch Goddard’s finest solo moment (that would be the sky-scraping collaboration with Valentina, Gabriel) or most of Hot Chip’s immense back catalogue, Harmonics is still a distinctive, often exhilarating, record from Goddard and his host of friends.

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