Album Review

In Our Heads

In Our Heads

By Hot Chip

Domino
7 / 10
28th June 2012

By Max Walker


London indie/electro outfit Hot Chip have always straddled a seemingly awkward line. Their earlier records mixed their love of New Order with a particular kind of English self-deprecation, whilst also being somehow incredibly fashionable. They seem to artfully multitask making music that appeals to many different kinds of fans whilst being a ‘band’ first and foremost. 2006’s Mercury-nominated The Warning, which included hit singles ‘And I Was a Boy From School’ and ‘Over & Over’, launched the group into the popular consciousness and they have been making critically acclaimed albums ever since.

In Our Heads sees Hot Chip shift slightly sideways following 2010’s One Life Stand, an album that saw the band at their most soulful and romantic. Their fifth record does contain love songs but it is peppered with more upbeat numbers, reminiscent of The Warning and Made In The Dark. Tracks like ‘How Do You Do?’ and the disco tinged ‘Don’t Deny Your Heart’ are pure pop/electro hits. At close to an hour and with five tracks clocking over the five-minute mark, the album does see the band at perhaps their most ambitious. Many songs seem to span several genres at once, with mixed results.

‘Look At Where We Are’ sounds like it could be off One Life Stand, a down tempo R&B ballad that sees lead singer Alexis Taylor yearning: ‘From the deep silence of my mind, there’s something I’m trying to find’ over well crafted and minimalist arrangements. Album centerpiece ‘Flutes’ is a wonderfully dark seven-minute slow burner. The track begins with strange sped up vocal samples used as the rhythm track and as the song begins to unfold. Gradually more percussion and counter rhythms creep in finally dropping into a dance-floor crescendo. However ‘Now There Is Nothing’ is a frustrating and over-arranged ballad with too many time signature changes and an annoying sampled door knock. First single ‘Night and Day’ sounds like the b-side of ‘Arrest Yourself’, it is Hot Chip at their most obvious, populated with too many samples; a pre-chorus that features the un-ironic repeated line “Let’s sweat” as well as a ‘geezerish’ rap in the bridge.

The record does improve towards the end, ‘Let Me Be Him’ sees Joe Goddard take the lead on vocals. The track is a simple pop song about a kind of joyful jealously. It begins with vintage drum machines and Goddard singing over organ chords. As the song continues to build, synth strings appear with a euphoric chorus line. Taylor joins in the second verse with the profound line: “lend me your ideas, but not too fully formed”, perhaps a heartfelt comment on their years of collaboration.

Overall, In Our Heads may not be the groups’ best work. It could be stated that Hot Chip are to electro what The Black Keys are to blues: a successful crossover that may have crossed over too far for some purists. However the band continue to show that they can complete the seemingly difficult task of creating electronic based music with heart, time and time again.






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