This Time We’ll Listen
A stream of new dance-rock releases makes that realm suddenly resurgent from an initial groundswell of publicity just two years ago, and it now allows for delineation of the sonic heritage of its major players. LCD Soundsystem unveils roots in art rock, !!! in funk, the Rapture in post-punk. Despite such acts’ independent spirit and label loyalties, only Hot Chip truly embraces and digitizes Indie Rock: The Genre. With genius merely suggested by earlier work, the Londoners’ second LP, The Warning, finally fully introduces their heart and soul into cold electronics.
The warm lyrical readings of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard continue a grand tradition of harmonic longing and self-effacement that stretches from Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service work all the way back to Lennon/McCartney. The best examples come in the variations on the central mantra of “Colours”â€šÃ„Ã®”I’m everything a girl could need / There’s nothing in this heart but me / If everything you want is free”â€šÃ„Ã®painting their emotions in subtle complexity, as well as the title track’s calm and ironic calamity: “Hot Chip will break your legs / Snap off your head.”
Many Hot Chip synth arrangements seem treated like Sonic Youth guitars: detuned, faded, flanged, made “vintage” regardless of time or type. Instrumental bridges and glockenspiel breakdowns merge the divergent yet ultimately funky visions of Prince, Peter Gabriel, and Depeche Mode (“Arrest Yourself,” the dance-music critique “Over & Over”). Much of what’s here is mid-tempo or slower, but “No Fit State,” “Over & Over,” and “(And I Was a) Boy from School” hint at the band’s presence on vinyl and on stage. Everything on The Warning is skillfully engineered to set toes a-tappin’ regardless of mood, a formula sending Hot Chip into music’s stratosphere.