Hot Chip are back, and they’re much the same as they’ve always been. The past year has found them covering both Vampire Weekend and Joy Division, so the time is ripe for some original material. One Life Stand was billed as a slightly more downtempo album after the exuberance of Made in the Dark, and while there are moments where the band experiments with some new styles, the title track finds them remaining within the confines of their familiar bouncy electro-dance rock. While I fully expected to fall instantly in love with this album as I have with their previous efforts, my reaction is far more conflicting than I expected.
There are several songs I absolutely love, first and foremost ‘Alley Cats’. Hot Chip first hooked me with their slower numbers, like ‘Boy from School’ and ‘Crap Kraft Dinner’, and ‘Alley Cats’ is just as moody, wistful, and wonderful as its predecessors. The New Order-esque ‘I Feel Better’ is another standout. You could argue any electro/rock/pop band today has been influenced by New Order and you’d probably be right, but the use of synthesizer on this track blended with more traditional Hot Chip elements works incredibly well. Joe Goddard takes lead vocals on ‘Take It In,’ where he poses somewhat tedious questions like what to do after watching Wheel of Fortune, contrasting with the soaring harmonies of the chores, making a great closing song.
On the other hand, One Life Stand gets bogged down by two tracks that jump out as being terrible. ‘Slush’ finds Alexis Taylor inexplicably setting a Jackie Gleason quote to music, though I think incorporating the phrase “Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon!” would’ve been a better tribute to the love of Ralph and Alice Kramden. Honeymooners references aside, the song causes the album to lose a ton of momentum, and along with the Euro-dance track ‘We Have Love’, feels rather out of place. Of course, two songs can’t break an album, and by all accounts One Life Stand is still pretty good, but Hot Chip have set the bar so high that it comes off as slightly disappointing.
Tags: Hot Chip