Hot Chip: ‘One Life Stand’

In the last two years, music — or rather, hipsterdom — has experienced an electro-pop penetration with the prep school kids-turned musicians MGMT exploding onto the scene. Musicians that were prevalent pre-MGMT, pre Echoplex dance party, pre-fedora, pre-American Apparel deep v-neck phenomena, were left with a sort of deer in headlights look. Forced to keep up with the electro vomit that was being spewed everywhere, enveloped in these times, were the five talented Brits who make up Hot Chip.

Their 2008 album “Made in the Dark” and its electro/dance/ insanity sound was spawned as a result of having to keep up with the times. Not that it stopped them from topping charts, but that was the point. It nearly topped Billboard’s Top Electronic Albums chart debuting at the number two spot, but that was the point. Trendy folk just dancing around to “Ready for The Floor” and “One Pure Thought” had never even heard the likes of their old sound with “And I Was a Boy from School” or “The Warning.” This is not to insult “Made in the Dark.” It cannot deter from the simple fact that it was one of the greatest albums of 2008. The fact that Hot Chip has a serious knack for catchiness and seductive beat-making qualities can’t be reputed. And they’ve done it again. Only this time their latest album, “One Life Stand” doesn’t stop at explosive dance worthy catchiness — it exudes maturity.

Remember when Hot Chip had soul? Remember when their vocals took precedent over their psychotic dance beats? Remember the mellow beats and sweet sounds of “The Warning” and “Coming On Strong?” Well looks like they’ve decided to bring back that initial Hot Chip sound to those fans that have been with them through it all. This album also showcases for their new fans what kind of caliber they are capable of. It reverts back to their old tunes and leads away from their youthfulness.

The first track of the new album is always most pertinent to the rest. It says to the fans what kind of musical journey they may embark upon.  You either like it or you don’t, skipping through until you find one that’s strong enough to listen to all the way through. But Hot Chip’s new album opens with synthesized organs and an incessant drum beat that progress into the debut of the first song, “Thieves of the Night.” This track is intrinsic to the rest of the album, and explodes into a whirlwind of methodical rhythm, metaphorical lyrics, and a pure vulnerability to their souls. “Happiness is what we all want / may it be that we don’t always want” are repeated throughout. Lyrics that initially make you smile, and ultimately make you reflect upon the validity of that statement.

One of the first songs that the members recorded for the album was “Alley Cats.” This song encompasses their post-pubescent abilities. It has progressive intricate harmonies that are reminiscent of the simplicity of rounds practiced in choir. The stark lyrics “There is no pain that I know” repeats melodically in the midst of a bass line that you just can’t get enough of. In fact this song makes it hard not to start it over smack dab in the middle just to hear those harmonious beats over and over again.

Some of the slower tunes like “Brothers” and “Slush” have a certain dreamy and smile-inducing quality to them that make you sit back and let out a long satisfying sigh. These tracks make you happy. They’re slow and upbeat all at the same time. How is that these synth-pop babies are able to make this kind of intricate music?

In “One Life Stand,” Hot Chip shows just what kind of ingenious sound can come out of the current British electronic scene. This album encompasses all that Hot Chip has been and will be. They take some from their past to move towards their future, making it known that these musicians will outlast anything trendy and all that is hipster.