By: Dennis Cook
"There's a whole world in there" moans opener "Out At The Pictures," which rises like a '70s Texas Instruments calculator warming to life until busting into a dazzling go-go romp almost two-minutes in. Whole worlds full of tectonic shifts and brilliantly hued sunrises await one on Hot Chip's third long-player, Made In The Dark (released February 4th by Astralwerks). Bhangra fluctuations and bomb ass bass shake underscore a UK band delighted to play the studio like an unstable pachinko machine. Hot Chip has much of the manmade hardness of modernity obsessed ancestors like Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode, but they nail the silicone zeitgeist of things in their own winning way.
For one thing, Hot Chip frequently spins with the short shorts & shiny whistle abandon of late '70s disco, though without the usual post-modern archness. There's no wink to their enjoyment of mirror balls and sweaty, happy faces. File "Ready For The Floor" and "Hold On" between the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and Deee-Lite's psilocybin-y dance floor creations. What further sets Hot Chip apart from other heavily machined artists is a capacity for unforced sweetness like "We're Looking For A Lot of Love" and "Touch Too Much," which will send you digging for your dusty copies of the first Blue Nile album and the dreamier Yazoo sides.
This is a band and not just a collection of producer/button operators, and the hemoglobin strut of carbon-based life infiltrates the steely plains that open up here. Their humanity shines perhaps most poignantly on "In The Privacy Of Our Love" and the title cut, which veer close to Ed Harcourt and Sufjan Stevens territory, showing yet another face to this multifaceted combo. They drop in overdriven electric guitars and rainbow analog synth splashes to amp the dynamics, and always at cool junctures. "Wrestlers" and a few bridges show a facility with whimsy that suggests they may have a few early Paul McCartney solo records in their crate, too.
It's easy for drum machine backdrops like this to feel a touch inhuman but Hot Chip has their grubby fingers inside the machine, chasing ghosts and old kisses with mercurial inspiration and no small amount of heart. When glimpsed through the lens of Made In The Dark, the future does look bright enough to require shades.
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