Hot Chip: ‘One Life Stand’

By , Jan 29 2010

Available on: EMI CD/digital, Vinyl Factory 12″

For so many years a cult concern, Hot Chip these days are public property. Everyone’s heard of Hot Chip. Everyone’s got an opinion about Hot Chip, however ill-considered or half-baked. They’re a proper pop group, or at least as much of a proper pop group as it’s possible to be without slinging your ideals out the window.

As time has worn on and their stock risen, so Hot Chip’s confidence in themselves has grown. They seem to be happy with who they are, what Hot Chip is, and while their first two albums were quite exploratory and unpredictable affairs, by the time of 2008’s Made in The Dark you felt as though Alexis Taylor, Joe Goddard and pals had nailed their sound. Certainly their new LP, One Life Stand, is a reinforcement and refinement of that sound, rather than any kind of radical departure.

Its title track is also its lead single, and within seconds of hearing it, you know they’ve basically struck gold. Even if it’s not to your taste – and for many Alexis Taylor’s none-more-tremulous croon will be less palatable than ever – there’s no mistaking the simple melodic genius underpinning this song. Like ‘Ready To The Floor’ or ‘Over & Over’, ‘One Life Stand’ is musically so immediate and intuitive that it feels like you’ve known it all your life.

This should come as no surprise; after all, Hot Chip have always had a way with anthems, at least ever since The Warning. Not shout-’em-loud terrace anthems, exactly – though ‘Over & Over’ came pretty close to that – but stirring, bittersweet songs rendered with sincerity and strapped to a chassis of steady, unalienating rhythm – the kind of rhythm that can navigate hipster techno club and provincial office disco with more or less equal assurance. It helps too that Alexis Taylor has mastered the art of lyrical ambiguity, dealing in phrases and sentiments broad enough to be all-encompassing and easily applicable to one’s own petty triumphs and woes. That’s how pop works.

Listening to ‘One Life Stand’, I’m reminded above all else what fine craftsmen Hot Chip’s personnel have become. The track’s outwardly coarse, toytown aesthetic masks the incredible production and musicianship at work: it’s really in the details, like the slinky keyboard harmonies and snapclaps in the verses, the way the chiming, ‘Josephine’-esque guitars lock in for the chorus. Simple this song might be, but much attention has been paid to how it sounds, enough to keep you coming back.

If you’re a Hot Chip hater – and there are a fair few out there – you’ll find nothing in ‘One Life Stand’ to change your mind. But fans, and those of us enchanted by music that’s universally accessible without being ball-shrinkingly boring, will be plenty impressed.

Ben Baglin

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