Hot Chip – Made In The Dark (2008): Review

hotchip1

Produced by Hot Chip
Label – EMI

Hot Chip can write a memorable pop song, for this fact there is little doubt. Indeed, the London 5 piece have gathered interest from those behind the resurgently healthy Kylie Minogue, with a view to a future writing collaboration. Not bad for a bunch of nerds who write and record much of their material in Joe Goddard’s bedroom, built their reputation through Hulk hands and favourable indie reviews, they fondly reference Destiny’s Child, R. Kelly and Prince with honest candour and little fear of reprisal from NME. There’s an impression that their creative ambitions have outgrown the evening session radio shows and indie club nights, and Hot Chip seem ready for a prolonged assault on national TV and heady chart oriented heights. And yet, it seems that “Made In The Dark” is grounded in trying to keep all parties satisfied, resulting in an album of electro Pop which remains in parts as refreshing as “The Warning” but ultimately falls short of lasting potential. The sound and indeed the conundrum that Hot Chip are attempting in covering all bases reminds one of the mid 80’s artistic battles Liverpool’s OMD were attempting with their 1984 release, “Junk Culture”. The similarity is not only a loose electro pop musical tie. Both albums seem trapped between overtly commercial sensibilities and a desire to create their own intrinsic experimental niche, and sadly, they never fulfil either function successfully.

hotchip

The thrills come early on, and then the quality tails off markedly leaving one firmly believing that “Made In The Dark” is about 10 minutes too long. The leadoff single, “Ready For The Floor”, is insistent, catchy, but not as strong as “Over And Over” from “The Warning”. “Shake A Fist” benefits from the borrowed Todd Rundgren “Something/Anything?” vocal passage, as the listener is introduced to searing pitch shifting synth stabs, pummelling rhythms that hit like lightning bursts through the “suggested” headphones that Todd and the boys suggest us to use. Opener “Out At The Pictures” builds superbly from the increasingly urgent oscillating synth line that leads into a jerky electro pop master class. The ballads such as the title track are frankly where Hot Chip lose momentum. They’re too sparse, Taylor’s vocal lines are thin, ineffective and musically they’re all too familiar. The band’s strength lies in their fun exploration and focus on dance Pop and energetic grooves; something that “Made In The Dark” only half achieves. Still, the highlights will make for a great addition to a greatest hits album somewhere down the line. A stage all the great pop bands hope to aspire to?

With a more than justified weight of expectation following its predecessor, “Made In The Dark” is charming yet hardly crucial.

6/10

Track Listing
1.”Out at the Pictures” – 4:26
2.”Shake a Fist” – 5:11
3.”Ready for the Floor” – 3:52
4.”Bendable Poseable” – 3:46
5.”We’re Looking for a Lot of Love” – 4:43
6.”Touch Too Much” – 4:05
7.”Made in the Dark” – 3:00
8.”One Pure Thought” – 4:53
9.”Hold On” – 6:20
10.”Wrestlers” – 3:45
11.”Don’t Dance” – 4:42
12.”Whistle for Will” – 2:23
13.”In the Privacy of Our Love” – 2:52

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