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Hot Chip bring the noise on Freakout/Release

"Freakout/Release"

Release date: 19 August 2022
8/10
Hotchip freakoutrelease art
17 August 2022, 00:00 Written by Alice Jenner
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Seminal synthpop heroes Hot Chip are back with the strongest flavour yet of their alternative dance-based repertoire.

With their reputation as some of the most creative and hard-working producers and musicians rapidly increasing over the years, the multi-instrumentalist five-piece have now returned with their own vast and emotional eighth album, Freakout/Release.

Amongst the depths and pressures of a pandemic, producing wizards Al Doyle and Joe Goddard put together their own recording environment, the Relax & Enjoy Studio in East London, where the band have been able to create this project in a space and time uniquely their own. The result is a mature and progressive album, taking in their carefully crafted style of previous backcatalogue while still sounding fresh and further developed.

First single and album opener, “Down”, is an effortlessly infectious pop masterclass. Hooked around a sample of Universal Togetherness Band’s “More Than Enough”, it envelopes Hot Chip’s expertise in taking something great and classic-sounding and spinning it into a modern bop. There’s a new, more darkly funky level to the tracks on this album than ever before, and while still keeping the bassline at the helm there seems to be far more focus on lyricism, giving them even more depth to work with. Following the album’s tracklisting, second release “Eleanor” has just as powerful danceability as the lead single but does remotely more beautiful things to the soul. Alexis Taylor’s vocals in his softer moments bring a warmth that would bleed right into the corners of any cold heart, and the track shines a feel-good light that rivals even the best of its genre. Elsewhere on the album we get many more of these moments of tenderness, hope, pain, and beauty through their eclectic songwriting style, which are fairly reminiscent of their sound on 2019’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy; see “Broken”, “Not Alone”, “Miss The Bliss”.

In a sharp U-turn back to their alternative tendencies though, the album’s title track is a heavily abrasive kraut-sounding explosion of noise. The band have cited their now-fan-favourite live cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” as particularly influential when creating some parts of this album, wanting to recapture that same energy in the studio, and feed that loss of control into their own songs. “Freakout/Release” came out sounding somewhere along the lines of another Joe Goddard project, the latest Warmduscher record, with added Kraftwerk, and features extra help from legends Soulwax. It’s a million miles away from the likes of “Eleanor” but is an exciting direction of the great ship Hot Chip. Further expansion on their genre-hopping travels is heard on “The Evil That Men Do”, which features Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon in a track that encompasses such a range of tempos and moods that it’s a whole journey of its own. Another guest voice can be found on “Hard To Be Funky” (not something that they struggle with clearly) which features a sultry input from DJ/musician Lou Hayter, and while collaboration is something each individual of the band can be found doing elsewhere in their many sideprojects, it seems to be becoming more prevalent now for Hot Chip on this album, and could almost be likened to Gorillaz territory.

Freakout/Release features many moments of quintessential Hot Chip fun, but explores other exciting avenues as well. What’s clearly still at the centre though is the heart and love for creativity that this band still have, and it’s a testament to their talent that through all the music they create between them they can still turn out interesting hits in new ways.

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