Fledgling UK electropop band Hot Chip have found greater success with their second album, "The Warning," but thankfully have not sold their souls to do so.
This sophomore album is simply exploding with experiments and ideas, so much so that an otherwise amazing album gets a little drippy around the edges. Give them a few more years, and Hot Chip will be blowing our minds with the bravest, wildest electronica. For the moment, they're still trying their wings.
It opens with the retro drones of "Careful," right before the song suddenly settles into a more expansive little groove. It sounds torn between retro synth and the artier edges that they are so, so good at. They stabilize their sound somewhat in "And I Was A Boy From School," with its steady beats and catchy little melody.
From there on, Hot Chip experiments with just about any sound that electropop can include -- airy little ballads, hip-hoppish dance music, delicate beats like something from Telepopmusik, grimy robot rock, twinkly little art tunes, and some Kraftwerk-inspired techno. In other words, they will twist those amazing art beats into... anything, really.
Not many bands can do EVERY kind of music with more or less successful results, but Hot Chip is pretty good at all kinds of music. The only problem is that they seem to be a bit torn between the popular retro sound, and the more out-there art sounds. In songs like "Careful," it feels awkward and unbalanced.
But once they work the kinks out of that, Hot Chip will probably have few musical flaws at all. They have a knack for putting the right beats in the right places, and excel at deceptively simple melodies that never stop being catchy -- even the quieter ones can draw you in and make you mumble the words.
They also know just how much to pack into a single song: the beats are heavy and rough, or delicate and crystalline. Glimmering synths, spurts of bass, funky melodies, buzzes, horns, sonic squiggling, and other sounds spice up the music. Plenty of artier moments, without losing that catchy dancey beat.
Alexis Taylor sounds a bit like Benjamin Gibbard, with his mellow vocals and somewhat downbeat attitude. At first he seems almost nebulous on his own album, but he stands out more and more as you listen to him murmur about balloons, colours, and "Look after me and i will look after you/that's something we both forgot to do...."
Since they have been nominated for a Mercury Award, expect Hot Chip to be more prominent than before, and hopefully they'll have plenty of time to get even better than they already are.