In my humble opinion, Hot Chip are the greatest British band of the new millennium. From their debut Coming On Strong and three subsequent long-players to albums from vocalists Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, both solo and with their respective “other” outfits (the 2 Bears and About Group), no other band has managed to pull together so many different musical strands – pure pop, indie rock, soul, R&B, dance and electronica – so skillfully and with such good-humoured sincerity as to unite streetwise teenagers and jaded old rockers under one giddy groove. New Build, the latest side-project, allows two of the less prominent members – Felix Martin and Al Doyle, along with engineer Tom Hopkins – to step into the spotlight, and whilst one might reasonably expect a slightly sub-standard approximation of their parent band’s sound it’s a pleasure to report that Yesterday Was Lived And Lost – streaming now over at Dazed – is by far the strongest Hot Chip spin-off to date; a set of remarkably well constructed, catchy tunes that showcases Doyle as a more than capable singer with a voice as distinctive as either Taylor or Goddard. As you might already know, Doyle has spent the past few years moonlighting as guitarist for LCD Soundsystem, and the album – in terms of both songwriting and production – seems equally influenced by the two groups; for every Prince-like funk banger (the excellent “The Third One”) there’s a nod to Berlin period Bowie like “Finding Reasons”, for every cowbell and conga-packed percussive workout, a rush of synth-led Hi-NRG electro-pop. “Do You Not Feel Loved” and “Behind The Shutters” – with their shiny techno surfaces and sleek, throbbing beats – and blue-eyed soul lullabye “Last Gasp” lean more towards Hot Chip, whilst the rocky “Misery Loves Company” and toe-tapping disco freak-out “Mercy” come down hard on the side of James Murphy’s unit, but the middle ground between the two groups is also particularly fertile: “Medication” (featuring backing vox from Planningtorock’s Janine Rostrom) takes a turn into warped gospel territory, and closer “Silence And The Muttering” is a muscular, slow-burning fade-to-black. As a debut record Yesterday is stunningly assured, and Doyle, Martin and Hopkins’ obvious chemistry has hit on something that deserves to be recognized as more than just a side-project; with Hot Chip’s fifth album looming on the horizon, let’s hope New Build are given an equal opportunity to shine.
Yesterday Was Lived And Lost is out March 5 in the UK and April 3 in the U.S. on the band’s own Lanark Recordings imprint