It was in 2006 that I first came across Hot Chip. Officially, they were touring their second album The Warning, but when I saw them at The Cockpit in Leeds it hadn’t actually been released yet, and Over and Over had only been a minor hit.
So when a friend suggested we go to see this frankly awfully-named band, I had a good excuse for having no idea who they were. But along we went, and there really was something very infectious about their energy. Digging around, I found their brilliant (but largely ignored) debut album Coming on Strong (2004), and finally caught up with their wonderful second album The Warning (2006).
Victims of their own success, I always felt they went a little over the top with Made in the Dark (2008). Aside from Ready for the Floor and We’re Looking for a Lot of Love, both of which are undeniably excellent, much of the album still feels to me like a victory for style over substance. Seeing them live a second time, now surrounded by floppy haired students, did very little to subdue this feeling.
Their most recent album One Life Stand (2010) seemed to have learnt from every one of those mistakes. Even at its most dull, it was an interesting listen, and its major hits I Feel Better and Hand Me Down Your Love were great additions to Hot Chip‘s line of perfect pop songs. It also didn’t seem to suffer from the loudness problems which had plagued its predecessor.
So, regular like clockwork, it’s now 2012, and we were due another album. One of the things I like the most about Hot Chip is their experimental edge – they’re never afraid of making listeners work a little when they put out a new album. And In Our Hands is no exception – a great example is the early taster Flutes, which was initially accompanied by this vomit-inducing studio video:
Where they dropped the ball a little this time was perhaps with the choice of lead single – for me Night and Day is one of the weaker tracks on the album. But then, who listens to singles any more? And they more than make up for that with the rest of the album. There are far too many highlights to list, but I’d like to save a special mention for Look at Where We Are, which is a brilliant pop song with a great chorus, and Now There Is Nothing, which demonstrates the artform of turning bitterness into pop with a mastery of which any other band should be jealous. And if These Chains isn’t a future single then I’ll be very angry.
Hot Chip are back on very strong form – In Our Heads is a masterclass in clever pop music, and I suspect this may be their best album yet.
If, for some reason, you don’t have it already, In Our Heads is widely available through places like Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and iTunes. I’ll talk more about what it’s like to see them live in a few days…