Hot Chip | One Life Stand (Astralwerks)

This album has a very strong opening and ending but the middle is skippable.

Hot Chip’s major introduction to the USA came largely from 2008’s “Ready for the Floor” and their subsequent full length, Made in the Dark. The track was a perfect representation of what they’re about: intricate, instrumentally diverse electro-pop. The first single from their latest release, the title track “One Life Stand,” initially indicated that they stayed true to their sensibilities, but the rest of the album shows that the band has evolved.

Early on, the album is exactly what a fan might be expecting. It starts strongly with the phenomenal opener “Thieves in the Night” and continues into another strong track, the excellent piano driven “Hand Me Down Your Love.” At this point, it’s easy to be hooked, and Hot Chip continues with the album’s highlight, “I Feel Better,” featuring a layered, evolving beat that is highlighted by some very effective steel drums. By the time you’ve reached the title track, it feels like One Life Stand is shaping up to be a classic.

Unfortunately, the album takes a downturn next with “Brothers,” the weakest track. It slows things down overall and the overly long “Slush” and “Alley Cats” don’t turn it back on. Although those two are solid tracks, placed where they are, the momentum is drained. The whole section feels forced, as Hot Chip focuses here on their lead singers, Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard. Neither of them is strong enough to carry this many songs in a row. I know bands feel it’s important to show how diverse they are, but that’s not what I’m tuning in for here. Ultimately, it’s very disappointing.

By the time the album picks back up with the jungle influenced “We Have Love,” a fair amount of the momentum has been lost. Thankfully, Hot Chip does a good job of gaining it back. In fact, the album closes exceptionally with the surprisingly menacing “Take It In,” another major highlight. While this album has a very strong opening and ending, the middle is very skippable and that’s hard to forgive on a ten track record. If they had done a better job of sorting the song order, they might have had something very good, but as it is, One Life Stand is too uneven to be considered a major triumph. B- | Brett Berliner

RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, Does It Offend You, Yeah?
 

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