By now, surely everyone has his or her expectations of what a Hot Chip record should sound like. You’ve got the club bangers, and you’ve got the geek-tronica that makes you questions just why you’re moving to and fro. Their fourth album, One Life Stand, sees the band doing much of the same, yet they finally honed their craft enough to create an album with very few imperfections.
One of the record’s longest songs, “Thieves in the Night” kick off the whole affair. While the beats remain catchy, they aren’t as in your face as you’ve found on previous efforts, which actually propels the song along without letting the listener grow tired of redundant house beats. You can follow that up with another similar tune, “Hand Me Down Your Love,” where the electronic elements actually aren’t forcing you to dance at all, yet you can tap your feet along just as well. It’s reminiscent of Erasure (or Republic era New Order), a band who wrote love songs that could just as easily be enjoyed lyrically as you could dance to them. This is sort of the story of One Life Stand; it’s no longer about creating great dance tunes, but just great tunes period, which Hot Chip does for the most part.
Middling point kind of dies down the minor tempo, slowing it down just a bit further. The trifecta of “Brothers,” “Slush” and “Alley Cat” all take a step back from focused electronica in favor of fleshing out complete songs, albeit ones that include electronic components. “Alley Cat” is possibly the best of the three tracks, due mostly to the fact that the band has composed such songs without going too far out with their experimentation. In the past, the usage of too many elements often busied certain tracks, rendering them irritating upon repeated listens; this is no longer the case. The away the created “Alley Cats” leaves the perfect amount of room where it should be, whilst still including certain touches for the die-hard Hot Chip fan.
Closing out the album, Hot Chip go back to where you want them, hitting you with the edgier “Take It In.” It’s a dark number, but then it opens up in the middle, bringing you back to the light. It sort of encapsulates the whole of One Life Stand. You’ve got some electronic fused tunes kicking up the pace in the beginning, only to sort of relax and leave room for sitting back in the middle of the record. You can’t argue with such an ending, and you don’t need to do it, as the group has clearly closed the record in the most appropriate way.
Throughout the years, we’ve watched Hot Chip tinker with their own recipe of electro-pop. Finally, they’ve made enough breakthroughs, as well as missteps, to have landed upon what seems to be their final recipe. It’s hard to imagine that they’ll create much better than One Life Stand; of course, we can always hope they take the lessons learned and push even further into their development of great electronic music.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Hot-Chip-Take-It-In.mp3]
Download: Hot Chip – Take It In [MP3]