Hot Chip, of course, are probably most well known for that indie dance floor filler favourite. The monkey with the miniature cymbal, the repetition, it wasn’t exactly rocket science but by jove did it do the job. They arrived just at the right time when geek chic was becoming all the rage, had amazing videos and pushed all the right buttons.
Since then they’ve release two albums, but Hot Chip always seemed to have very much a singles of band. They show flashes of potential, but when it comes to listening to a whole album they’ve never quite managed to sustain, leaving people reaching for the skip button to jump to the track that reminded them of nights at New Slang.
But with One Life Stand there seems to be something different going on in the Hot Chip camp. Instead of displaying their know-twiddling prowess, it’s the vocals, melodies, and genre mashing that takes centre stage. We all knew they were clever boys when it came to machines and geekery, but what happens when you give them a set of steel pans?
The result of this branching out is a slightly more subdued, reflective feel to the album, letting the subtleties do the talking. Rather than the ‘you must dance to this now’ riffs, it’s a more mellowed down, day after euphoria that the band are peddling. Tracks like ‘Alley Cat’ and ”Keep Quiet showcase it best, combining ambient electronic noodlings with tender vocals and a lazy Sunday morning attitude.
However, ‘Slush’ leads things astray. A gospel-inspired vocal led track, it sounds so far removed from Hot Chip’s earlier sounds you’d be hard pressed to tell it’s them. As it descends into pop ballad territory, it’s all a bit bewildering, and an experiment that really should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.
One Life Stand shows a band keen to progress and develop, which can only be commended. But for the listener it’s a bit of a disconcerting experience, lurching about from sound to sound like being drunk on a waltzer. Kudos to Hot Chip for not playing it safe and knocking out another mediocre album of party time tracks, but they need to refine these new ideas to make that killer album they’ve got in them.