In Our Heads sees Hot Chip (@hot_chip), dance music’s hippest squares, return once again with a new album of blended sounds and styles. This time around, though, there’s a lot more homage to vintage house music and retro pop.
I dont know about you, but for me, Hot Chip have always been a very intriguing, enigmatic act perched firmly on the fringe. Commercially, they do pretty well, but I would never call them a chart success, and their music is certainly left-field and rife with unorthodox ideas. There’s no denying, however, that they know how to weave an infectious hook and insatiable groove. Despite all this (for me at least), they’ve never really been able to break through the barrier that separates good from great. When I first played In Our Heads and heard opening track “Motion Sickness”, I got a little giddy. I started to think that this could be it — this could be the album that see’s them make that transition. But as the record continued, despite being a really fun listen, it didn’t quite manage to make it to the other side.
Although not quite the complete package I was hoping Hot Chip would achieve, this record is still a truly enjoyable listen. With certain members like Joe Goddard heading off to work on solo material and other projects, the shape of this album was something I had contemplated with interest prior to hearing it. If you’re a fan of the gang’s previous indie pop/dance efforts, then you’ll be glad to know certain signatures and stylistic tendencies are still in tact. You may also like the little diversions Hot Chip took on this LP too. There’s somewhat of a sticky melting pot at work — through a mix of percussive elements, analogue synths and melodies, you can hear a definitive ode to classic house music. Tracks like “Dont Deny Your Heart” and, in particular, “How Do You Do” evoke a strong 90′s nighttime feel, giving the record legs with dancing shoes included.
The other interesting element to this record is the distinct 70′s/80′s pop vibe running throughout. Key arrangements, the inclusion of more acoustic drum and bass instrumentation, along with more guitar work, harmonies and Alex’s vocals on certain tracks give off an authentic and fun loving pop sentiment. For example, the asthmatic robot synth sounds on “Ends of the Earth” and the Todd Rundgren inspired vocal delivery on “Now There Is Nothing” sees the group weave a new musical fabric into their already well layered tapestry.
Despite all this good stuff (of which there is a lot), as a whole the album still feels a little unbalanced and inconsistent. A big part of this lies within a problem Hot Chip tend to repeat quite a lot — there are moments in this album, like many of their others, which simply reach too far afield. I’m all for experimentation, and when they’re on point, Hot Chip can do it better than most. When they go off the boil, though, things tend get a little messy, and unfortunately, there are moments scattered throughout where that is clearly evident. Still, if you can put those moments aside and refuse to dwell on them, you’ll find yet another energetic and engaging effort from this group of somewhat eccentric, charming Englishmen.