We’ll Give You Laid Back
With the release of their breakthrough 2006 album The Warning, Hot Chip developed dueling signature sounds: the cheeky, floor-filling mania of “Over and Over” and the soulful, Euro-disco balladry of “Boys from School.” If 2008’s Made in the Dark found the band trying to indulge the former, One Life Stand shows them perfecting the latter. Though that approach may come at the cost of another single on par with those past, it makes up for it with new found consistency and artistic subtlety.
For all of their success with snark, this band is often underrated for their sincerity. One Life Stand‘s lyrics make use of that candor frequently and effectively. Opener and album highlight “Thieves in the Night” is a perfect indicator of the current Hot Chip state of mind stating: “Happiness is what we all want.” They’ve always done desire convincingly, but with that sentiment, along with other standout lyrics like “I only want to be your one life stand” and “Please take my heart and keep it close to you,” the object of that desire has never been so clear and eloquent.
Their wordplay isn’t the only thing that has matured. In the past, the aforementioned “Thieves” would have literally exploded midway through. Here, it blossoms with layers of gleaming synths and warm guitar licks. Elsewhere, melancholy strings accent the gorgeous yearning in the punchy, piano-driven “Hand Me Down Your Love” and the autotuned, single-worthy “I Feel Better,” the latter of which plays like a younger kissing cousin to Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” with its tropical inflections. Other highlights include “Alley Cats,” which seems to stretch the coda of “Boys from School” into a funky yet tender opus all its own, and the alternately menacing and inviting closer “Take it In.”
One Life Stand isn’t quite perfect, (“We Have Love” feels like an overly wacky throwback amidst its peers in spite of its energy) and it may take more time to reveal its charms than its predecessors, but those charms also resonate longer. More than any of their past efforts, this is an album’s album that proves Hot Chip are in it for the long haul, and you should be too. After all, the band have done a splendid job of growing up here. It’s only fair that their listeners do the same.