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Delectable, dance-floor delights courtesy of Hot Chip

26 October 2015, 10:00 | Written by Saam Idelji-Tehrani

Watch Kraftwerk's Minimum-Maximum and one will witness the replacement of the human form for the android.

This is the image that immediately struck the mind as Alexis Taylor sang, "Replace us with the things that do the job better" during Hot Chip's set opener "Huarache Lights" at Brixton Academy. But at the Academy, Hot Chip provided a set of delectable, dance-floor delights that leaves no doubt in one's mind - their very human and exceedingly intelligent brand of electronic pop music is irreplaceable, by human or machine.

There was a resounding locomotive force to Hot Chip's set at Brixton Academy (22nd October). Like an old fashioned steam train, the wheels slowly gained momentum through set opener "Huarache Lights", before the band charged through the gears with a delightful, segued back to back of "One Life Stand" and "Night and Day". The latter of which, was accompanied by frenzied yellow strobes that deceived the retinas into believing the band were in stop-motion.

By the time “Flutes” - the zenith of a performance full of joyous moments - was aired, Hot Chip's sonic steam train felt unstoppable. Its creeping bassline danced balletically amongst vocal harmonies and gorgeous rising synths. Greeted with a cacophonous roar, synchronised dance moves from Taylor, Al Doyle, Rob Smoughton and Owen Clarke drove the crowd into feral rapture. Such was the momentum of the set that the slow-burning but nonetheless excellent Joe Goddard-led “Alley Cats” (sandwiched between “Over and Over” and “Cry For You” ) could not halt proceedings. Goddard’s understated vocal, on numerous occasions throughout the evening, played perfect sonic, and in the case of “Alley Cats”, emotional foil to Taylor’s distinctive vocal.

The issue with such momentum is that when things come crashing to an abrupt halt, it’s strikingly obvious. After triumphantly soaring with the steel-drum indebted “I Feel Better”, set closer “Why Make Sense?” saw an exposing disconnect between band and audience. On record, the track launches itself fearlessly into the stratosphere with reverb and bombast, but in the live setting “Why Make Sense?” failed to achieve those dizzying heights. This disconnect unfortunately lingered like an unwanted hangover into the proto-R&B, encore-opener “We’re Looking For A Lot Of Love”. It was an unfortunate lull, which marked the only blemish of an evening defined by an intense connection shared by audience and band.

This aforementioned lull was thankfully short-lived and banished by a three-pronged attack of “And I Was A Boy From School”; “Hold On” and the newly recorded Bruce Springsteen/LCD Soundsystem cover, “Dancing In The Dark/All My Friends”. Coincidentally, at its peak, “Dancing In The Dark”’s arpeggiated synthesisers were reminiscent of the rolling, voyaging melodies of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”.

Since expanding to a seven-piece unit for the tour of In Our Heads and later Why Make Sense?’s recording, the band have found an organic expansion in sound. Many of the pre-Why Make Sense? tracks showcased at the Academy were either given added muscle, such as “Hold On”’s pulverising disco beat; or they were elongated, re-arranged and spliced in order to garner maximum motion from the audience’s hips and feet. And actually, even the Why Make Sense? tracks, “Love Is The Future” and “”Cry For You" benefited within the live environment. “Love Is the Future”’s staccato beats and vocal harmonies, for example, unfurled sumptuously, while “Cry for You” was intersected with sharp 808 claps that (again) segued breathlessly into "Shake A Fist”.

Paradoxically it was the absence of songs, as much as those played that highlighted Hot Chip's fecund back catalogue. The likes of "One Pure Thought", "Let Me Be Him" and "Hand Me Down Your Love” - all absent from an evening of arguably “greatest hits” - are examples of the depth from which Hot Chip can call upon in the live setting. Like Springsteen, if Hot chip were to one day play mammoth sets exceeding two hours in running time, one can be positive they would have no trouble filling it with dance-floor killers.

As set closer "Dancing In The Dark" metamorphosed tastefully into LCD Soundsystem's almost un-coverable "All My Friends", it makes one realise that like LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip will one day, inevitably, end. Whilst potentially an overly melancholic thought, it allows us to reflect upon their position and legacy within the spectrum of British electronic pop music. At Brixton Academy, Hot Chip cemented their position as one of Britain's greatest electronic pop groups in a generation, on record and in the live setting.

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