Personally, I've never been happy with most electropop and dance music -- they take a beat, repeat it for five-to-ten minutes, and add in some lame lyrics about dancing. No thank you.
But after two albums of doing the exact opposite, Hot Chip.... are STILL not doing it in their third full-length album, "Made in the Dark." Instead, they sound even quirkier and wilder, and their songs are crammed with deliciously tight electropop, some wild flourishes and beats, and occasionally... a soft little reflective pop ballad.
"It's on every street/It's funky, cheap... Are you at the pictures?/Or out at sea?/It's better this way/Trust, do you believe me?," Alexis Taylor sings over a funky, angular melody. But the mind-bending really sets in with "Shake A Fist," a dark rhythmic pop song that mutates halfway through into a colourful, insane tangle of jabbing synth.
Apparently Hot Chip are aware that their audiences' brains might explode with more songs like that. So after the warm, catchy electropop of "Ready for the Floor," they try some easier fare -- clattery rock'n'roll, razor-edged electronica, rambling electropop tied in twisting rock riffs, and a shimmying electropopper that evolves into a shimmering... video game theme. Yeah, that's what it sounds like.
And there are a couple softer songs woven in there -- a gently catchy ballad wound in twitters and streams of synth, little soft ballads, and the closing song "Whistle For Will," which is all echoing synth and solemn piano.
There was obviously a lot of time and care taken with "Made in the Dark," because this album has few -- if any -- weak spots. In fact, the only one I can really take issue with is "Bendable Poseable," for its schizophrenically catchy sound -- and even then, I strongly suspect that Hot Chip intended for it to sound that way.
Their music is all tight, dancey, sharp-edged melodies from blazing electric guitars, shimmering twisting synthesizers, and some sharp drums to set the beat. Just about any one of them will get you bouncing in your chair. And Taylor plays some really beautiful, poignant piano melodies in the ballads, strung with softer, less dancey synth.
But rather than letting the catchiness carry the songs, they throw in some odd twists -- chants of "weather," horns, wind chimes, twists of jabbing synth, and a monologue (""Before we go any further I'd like to show you all a game I made up...."). You can never predict how these songs are going to go.
And Taylor sounds like he's having a GREAT time -- he can turn his quirky voice into the core of a dance song, or he can sing a low, soulful ballad. And he sings songs that are usually solid -- with a few odd moments ("I'm only going to heaven if it tastes like caramel") -- with the occasional lyrical brilliance ("I've never seen your love again/I'll never be your love for sure/Except for that day.... except for that day...").
Hot Chip astounds with the blindingly catchy, brilliantly complex "Made in the Dark" -- they keep polishing their music, and it just keeps getting better and better.