Hot Chip - One Life Stand
Thu 25th Feb, 2010 Music Reviewsin
Quirky indie electro-pop outfit Hot Chip offer their fourth studio album. Early speculation from the band indicated it would curiously be calmer sounding in comparison to their last release, Made in the Dark. They promised more “mid-tempo and disco influenced” tracks, possibly reminiscent of their sophomore album Come on Strong (the album which ultimately helped bridge the band’s success into the mainstream). Following this news expectations were high, and whilst Made in the Dark was a continued development in sound for the band, marked with clever sporadic experimentation, new One Life Stand potentially would see the band return to form.
One Life Stand is a solid offering, and musically it sounds like a precursor to Made in the Dark. There’s similar musical elements that sound like they could have been lifted from either of the last two albums. As the band suggested this is a much mellower release, but it’s still typically Hot Chip, albeit with a slightly darker edge. It is littered with tracks haunted by Alex Taylor’s unique vocals, and the band’s trademark synths and glitchy bleeps. But it also goes further, showcasing their production sophistication and daringness to be different, with a swag of ballad-esque tracks. Love seems to be a dominant theme, especially in the bizarrely homoerotic Brothers.
Although this album will become the basis of many arguments over whether the band have explored new sounds or returned to old, it could be said that the group have simply taken the best elements of their past work and rolled them all into one. Unfortunately the biggest criticism I have is that the album starts off strong, but descends to a place that’s arguably a bit too mellow by the end. Although, as everything with One Life Stand appears to be a contraindication, it is hard to distinguish if this in fact a flaw or a clever decision by the band. The trend du jour of a strong 80s influence – especially on the ballads – is marked all over these tracks.
Whilst the title track (and lead single) will prove to be the biggest hit of all of what’s on offer here, the album doesn’t contain the big anthemic songs we’ve become accustomed to, like Over and Over, Boy from School or Shake a Fist. While there are still stand outs, like I Feel Better, the chilled Alley Cats and We Have Love. The album is overall lower on dancefloor tracks. But do not fret, these will no doubt still be delivered in the form of remixes. Perhaps this was a conscious decision by the band, allowing them to focus on making the music they want to, and not necessarily dancefloor filler.
Like every Hot Chip album this will require multiple listens before you’ve fully absorbed its beauty. The problem is people have come to expect different things from the band, with all three previous albums offering a contrasting sound. For fans, how much you get out this will depend on what stage of Hot Chip’s career you fell in love with them. it’s certainly worth giving a few rotations and is another solid release. It will be interesting to see what direction they head in for album number five.