Getting back with your ex isn’t always advisable, but Hot Chip are giving it another shot
“We’re separated,” they say, “we’re seeing other people”, and no one really expects them to get back together. But what about those that do fall back into co-existing, trying to temper their own freedoms and work out a new morning bathroom schedule?
A lot has happened since Hot Chip’s fifth full-length, ‘In Our Heads’ – not least that their twin mastheads, Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, have worked on other releases, Goddard as part of The 2 Bears, Taylor striking out alone. Goddard, as well as his numerous remix projects, kept a commitment to the dancefloor, whereas Taylor used his deviation to explore some introspection in his own songwriting. So now that they’ve shacked up together once more for their sixth studio album, ‘Why Make Sense?’, are they able to find the same reconciliation between those two sides that has worked so well for them over the last 15 years?
An apparent ode to a Nike sneaker, ‘Huarache Lights’ is both the leading single and also a non-committal opener; lyrically abstract enough to avoid question, the only hint as to Hot Chip’s current state of mind is the suggestive Daft Punk-esque line, “Replace it with the things that do the job better”. Considering that the track samples First Choice’s 1977 hit, ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’, it’s not a statement Hot Chip can seem to fully adopt. It’s an interesting cut to use, though, and hints at the influences of hip hop and house that run through the record.
On the likes of ‘Love Is The Future’ and ‘Easy To Get’ the underlying score screams Joe Goddard; this is a man who’s taken in the jumpier tents of the festival circuit over the last couple of years – he’s the one who crafts the bangers. Unfortunately, a calling card of this album is that instead of enhancing the tracks, Alexis Taylor’s signature reedy vocal chips away at the gay abandon that Goddard can engineer with his direct line to your feet.
Taylor, at times, sounds like a haunted garden gate. I’ve always advocated their marriage before, but unless used sparingly, like on the solid, uptempo, Hercules & Love Affair-like pop of ‘Dark Night’, Taylor’s singing can best be described as a boner killer in an otherwise buoyant jump. It’s only on the delicate ‘White Wine And Fried Chicken’ that his voice is given the arena it now works best in. From his solo work, we learnt that Taylor flourishes as a more traditional, if still offbeat singer-songwriter. This is a rare foot-off-the-pedal that could have been written from the personal stationery of Squeeze’s Chris Difford.
Hot Chip’s second single from the album, ‘Need You Now’, inter-spliced with a sample from Sinnamon’s post-disco 1983 cut, ‘I Need You Now’, is the highlight of ‘Why Make Sense?’: beat heavy, yearningly soulful, with just the right amount of British muso-geek chic overlaid. It shows that, yes, two estranged lovers can get back together. And sometimes they’ll remember how to make some sweet, sweet music.