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Hot Chip : In Our Heads

Track artwork

If you’re a regular Foam Hands reader (and if not, why not?), you may already be aware that I rank Hot Chip as the best British band of the past decade; that being my own personal opinion, you could, if you wish, disagree but one fact that nobody can argue with is that they are also one of the hardest-working groups around today. Of the five members, only Owen Clarke isn’t currently part of at least one major non-Chip musical project: Alexis Taylor moonlights with About Group and Bang & Olufsen, Felix Martin and Al Doyle make up 2/3 of New Build and as well as being one of the 2 Bears, Joe Goddard can now legitimately class himself as a successful solo artist, having recently scored a number one hit single (the DFA-approved “Gabriel”) in South Africa. Add to this numerous production credits, remixes and DJing gigs and you might be inclined to worry that the band could be spreading themselves a bit thin, but amazingly that’s far from true. Fifth album (and first for new label Domino) In Our Heads finds Hot Chip back on top form and recapturing the sense of pretention-free fun many felt was lacking in predecessor One Life Stand. If that record suggested they were starting to (whisper it) take themselves seriously, then perhaps the various side-projects have provided an appropriate outlet for the various members to expand on the different elements they bring to the party (Taylor’s soulful sensitivity, Doyle and Martin’s rhythmic pulse and muscular rock chops, Goddard’s electronic expertise); certainly, as uniformly excellent as they are, none of them really resemble their parent group all that much but here all of those components are polished up and reassembled, the trademark Hot Chip sound refreshed and rebooted. Typically heavy on disco (opener “Motion Sickness”) and electro-pop (“How Do You Do,” “Don’t Deny Your Heart“), In Our Heads flirts with 2-stepping UK garage (“These Chains”) and funky house (“Ends Of The Earth”) but works best when splicing together sub-genres into something new but recognisably Hot Chip: “Flutes”‘ (below) hypnotic loops and XX-style night-bus soul merge into a kind of black-lit post-dubstep thump, while the smooth, melodic “Let Me Be Him” slowly blossoms into euphoric old-skool acid house, but best of all is lead single “Night & Day“, a messy but insanely hooky whistle-stop tour of contemporary club culture in all its weird and wonderful forms, anchored by 2012′s biggest bass-line. Then there’s the now-customary ballads: with even the more dancefloor-friendly tracks boasting lyrics celebrating the joys of romantic stability and domestic bliss (sample chorus: “(These chains you’ve wound around my heart/ Complete me baby, I wouldn’t be free”), R&B slow-jam “Look At Where We Are,” McCartney-esque mini symphony “Now There Is Nothing” and cheesy easy-listening closer “Always Been Your Love” may not stand out as much as, say, The Warning‘s “Look After Me” or Made In The Dark‘s title track, but they are no less lovely. Brilliantly, the band have managed to make their most mature, most sincere album yet their most enjoyable; as they put it themselves, “We take fun seriously,” and here that comes across clearer than ever.

In Our Heads is out June 11 on Domino Recording Co. and is streaming in full now over at NPR.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix. I'm a thirtysomething dad who has written in the past for The Quietus, Resident Advisor and Onethirtybpm. Music has been a huge part of my life for over twenty years, and I still passionately love everything from classic rock and indie pop to hip hop and techno, from Afrobeat and jazz to Krautrock and metal, so I decided to try and spread the word about some of the stuff I hear and like. Hopefully you'll like some of it too, and if you do please bookmark the site (I try to post something most days, even if having a baby girl to look after sometimes makes that impossible) and follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts, and the occasional random brain-fart. Lastly, please share links wherever you can: word of mouth is everything!

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