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Hot Chip – In Our Heads

27/06/2012
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There’s so many shared traits between the latest albums by Hot Chip and PMMP that originally I thought of running a shared article between the two, before shrugging the idea off due to the rather different natures of both albums. But there’s a lot of common ground between the new offerings from the British geek-pop outfit and the Finnish girl rockers, starting from the plain and simple facts that both albums were released on the same day and are both artists’ fifth albums. Even their careers have followed similar paths: both started with debuts that were simultaneously promising as well as misleading, went on to make two albums where they stretched their artistic borders and seemingly became those sorts of bands who sacrifice cohesiveness for imagination, until their respective fourth albums took a moment to sit down and focus, delivering their strongest outings yet. Both fifth albums also follow on the footsteps of their respective predecessors, continuing on a more focused approach. But the key difference comes with the results. PMMP’s Rakkaudesta feels slightly toned down and held back when compared to what came before; Hot Chip’s In Our Heads on the other hand is the most colourful and extroverted album the band have released yet.

Hot Chip have always had a more energetic side to them but In Our Heads really pulls them away from the sidelines shyly watching others dance and takes them straight on the dancefloor. The album’s songs could be roughly categorised in two groups: the songs you bounce along to with no care in the world and the songs you smoothly sway the night away with your loved one. The rough edges and sudden twists and turns are nowhere near present and once a song has declared its intention, it never shies away from it – rather, it endulges in it and just takes it further as the tune progresses. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise how a large amount of the album’s best moments are also some of its lengthiest ones: “Motion Sickness” kicks off the album with a triumph (and at this day of bizarre vinyl fetishism, it’s a joy to hear someone celebrate the good ol’ CD), “Flutes” is as jaw-droppingly amazing as it was when its nauseating preview video first stumbled into the world and “Let Me Be Him” is the most adorable, love-filled piece of surprisingly danceable cuddliness this band have managed to produce so far, ending in an almost serene fashion just to underline the loveliness of it all. Although, admittedly, this theory is somewhat spoiled by “Ends of the Earth” counting among one of the album’s longer songs and also being the album’s sole somewhat weaker point (largely thanks to being heavily overlong), but details, details. Not to give no credit to the other songs – “Night & Day” and “How Do You Do?” just get better and better with each and every listen and all their wonderful grooves, hooks, melodies and production are a proof of geniuses at work. It’s pop perfection, simple as.

To bring back the ridiculous PMMP comparison angle: where smoothing down the rough edges have made Rakkaudesta somewhat of a slow-burner, toning down Hot Chip’s past zaniness has given them a genuine reason to truly shine. A lot of people might find it awkward to call something professional-sounding, but that’s one of the best words to describe In Our Heads. The eleven songs here are made by a group of people who by now have mastered their craft, learned which things work and which things do not, and are able to mix daring adventures into the unknown with the rest of the music rather than stick jarring middle eights into otherwise flawless songs. In Our Heads is boldest, most confident slice of Hot Chip yet and it’s near-flawlessly executed. On a more objective stance, you could easily treat it as the finest Hot Chip album yet and if it wasn’t for my personal ties towards 2010’s One Life Stand, I’d officially title it as such from a 100% subjective point of view as well.

There’s two very striking lyric lines in In Our Heads. “How Do You Do?” mentions celebrating “the light that shines through the pain” while “Don’t Deny Your Heart” offers a statement-like “we take fun seriously“. These two lines could just as easily capsulate In Our Heads. Hot Chip’s fifth album is joy for life and love set on the dancefloor, smiling through the downs and celebrating the highs. Who would’ve thought the shy romantics of yesteryear’s albums could come up with something so confident, extrovert and commanding?


Motion Sickness

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