It was with a certain degree of expectation that I decided to listen to the new Hot Chip album. The Grammy winning and Mercury Prize-nominated band from London, England have generated a reputation of being talented and intelligent alternative dance performers. My question about the new album was would it be more consistent and accessible than Made in the Dark, their 2008 album featuring the hit “Ready For The Floor”?
Well, One Life Stand is like an exercise in moving from the accessible to the mundane. The biggest insult that judges can deliver in talent show contests is to suggest that contestants seek a career in musical theatre. I mention this because One Life Stand opens with “Thieves in the Night” which has a definite stage sound to it. I could just imagine the singer opening his arms on stage and throwing his head back to deliver the chorus. The music is definitely upbeat with a New Wave or Synthpop sound to it but it also reminded me so much of Visage’s “Fade To Grey” that I nearly decided to listen to that instead.
The next song “Hand Me Down Your Love” begins so promisingly with the funky piano sounds being made popular by acts such as Parov Stelar. I expected the song to go somewhere, for there to be some substance once I’d taken the hook but the song just amounts to nothing.
Hot Chip had told fans to expect a slower, more downbeat sound but these tracks are merely uplifting little ditties that make you wonder why this has been marketed as a dance album. Bands such as Soft Cell, Ultravox and Visage tore up the eighties with their brand of driving synthesizer music and this album is a definite nod to that era but it sounds stale and inane. By mid-album it is obvious that all of the songs so far have sounded alike and are pretty unremarkable.
And then you have “Slush”. My first thoughts on hearing the barbershop-type vocals and the lyrics “humina, humina, humina” are not fit to repeat on a family site such as this but let’s just agree that I was bordering on feeling offended.
By the time the first proper dance offering “We Have Love” arrives, the listener has all but lost interest. It is a wonder who this album was actually aimed at it seems that too musical theatre for lovers of dance or alternative music and it somehow misses the “4am, driving home from a club” mark completely.
I should have switched it off and turned on "Fade To Grey" when I had the chance.