“I'm not a geek, I'm a unique weasel.” – Stoney, California Man
Flippin’ heck time sure as hell flies, doesn’t it? Hot Chip has chalked up five albums. Nobody paid much attention to their first album when it was released in 2003; there was the odd positive review, but then a who-are-these-guys? viral video buzz erupted around ‘Over and Over’. Tech followers, wallflowers and star fuckin’ hipsters all fawned over a bunch of fruity looking charity shop dwelling musicians.
Except the band weren’t really what they looked like; the members of Hot Chip had individual character, an astute knowledge of the classics, a grounding in dance history. In Our Heads is a much nuanced album, the euphoric beats that those under-23s parents danced to in the heady club days have been revived. See, here is the hard sell, Hot Chip are, and arguably they always have been, a step outside of the current circle, and perhaps there is evidence that they’re being picked up by those who are too old for the current dance scene, but can still remember those pioneering nights out in club land. This is an album more for people who’ve already danced til the next morning, and now appreciate lie-ins and a prompt Sunday breakfast in bed before a sprightly ten AM dog walk.
Perhaps never getting the full credit they deserve, Hot Chip haven’t quite managed to escape the tag they were initially labeled with - that they are a bunch of jokers, a band that don’t take themselves seriously, and therefore their music shouldn’t be taken seriously. Their longevity is amazing, considering in essence, the Hot Chip sound hasn’t evolved too dramatically from their debut.
Opener ‘Motion Sickness’ is a synthesized heavenly slice of milk bottle clinking house that borrows classy brass and bleeds out time capsule captured euphoria. The hard house beats, dismissed by house heads who know real house, on ‘How Do You Do’, ‘These Chains’, ‘Let Me Be Him’ and ‘Ends Of The Earth’ sparkle, and the singles ‘Night and Day’ and ‘Flutes’ evidently progress the Hot Chip sound into more expansive territory. I suppose it sounds bigger, more daring, less trapped in a self-designed box.
There are also brilliant oddities - ‘Don’t Deny Your Heart’ is chipper cheesy romantic pop with added borderline boy band melodies and animalistic groans, ‘Now There Is Nothing’ sounds like it came from a dodgy eighties soft-core porn soundtrack, the kind you’d only see within the discomfort of the loneliest room in a two star hotel. The Frusciante-esque guitarplay on ‘Look At Where We Are’ offers a pillow for Alexis Taylor to cry his lonesome tears upon.
Joking aside - and how can a music critic who doesn’t take himself seriously expect to review a band that doesn’t take themselves seriously, anyway? - this is Hot Chip’s most accomplished album to date. The band’s influences are finally being understood, as opposed to critics believing they were acting like ironic hipsters who hope to create cool from imitation. Wherever the compass points, whatever is hot right now, it doesn’t matter since Hot Chip are secure in directing their own levels.