Monday, February 4, 2008

Album Review: Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

It fell into my lap, the cover robin’s egg blue with a raised, bronze-colored design reminiscent of some kind of relic from the Mayans, Aztecs, or Incas. Holding it, I felt my breath quicken and my hands gripped tightly in anticipation. For what I was holding in my hands, friends, was a copy of the new Hot Chip album, Made in the Dark, follow-up to their breakout album The Warning, and it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. I’ve pretty much been waiting for this for ages. And oh, it was worth the wait.

Hot Chip is a band that doesn’t mess around. They like to get down to the business at hand, which in this instance is the creation and implementation of a killer dance album. My first impression is that the boys of Hot Chip spent their summer vacation buying every obscure, electro record from the early 1980s they could get their hands on, because Made in the Dark sounds straight outta 1983. And yet, it also sounds fresher than most releases you’re likely to hear all year. The manipulations of the retrotastic beats and bleeps combined with the textbook Hot Chip dual-vocal attack reconciles the old and new quite nicely, showing a further evolution of the sounds found on The Warning.

Somehow, Hot Chip managed to take everything good from their 80s inspiration without being bogged down by sounding too much like throwbacks. I kept listening for the throwaway songs, the filler, and they never showed up. From the opening intensity of “Out at the Pictures” to the end of the unexpectedly romantical slow jam “In the Privacy of Our Love,” it’s one great track after the next. How can you not love a song featuring the line “I’m only going to Heaven/if it feels like Hell,” as does “Hold On”? “Bendable Poseable” was a part of their set list during last year’s tour, and it will soon wriggle its way into your brain’s synapses, so catchy is this song. “Whistle for Will” is dedicated to Ezra Jack Keats and Will, and I find it impossible not to love a song inspired by one of my favorite authors from my childhood. Thirteen songs, thirteen little bits of superfragilisticelectrobeattacularness to enjoy over and over and over. Thank you, Hot Chip.

Take from it what you will; Hot Chip wants to party all the time, Hot Chip gets down tonight, Hot Chip loves to party like it’s 1999. But the general idea you should take away from this album is that Hot Chip can still break your legs and snap off your head, not to mention the whole making you dance your ass off thing. It might only be February, but I don’t think it’s too early to predict that Made in the Dark is going to end up on plenty of year-end lists when December rolls around. It’ll be on mine, that’s for damn sure.

Make sure your Tuesday includes a stop at your local record store, for all your Hot Chip needs.

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