Hot Chip | The Warning (EMI/Astralwerks)

This is a thoroughly listenable platter in which most of the kicks come early, indeed.

 


How to please a music reviewer, Tip #11: Put three great songs in a row near the beginning of the record, and make sure the second half of the record is at least fairly consistent. British electro-soul outfit Hot Chip don’t know me, of course, but they followed my advice on their sophomore release The Warning. This is a thoroughly listenable platter in which most of the kicks come early, indeed.

“And I Was a Boy From School” engages the ears with a propulsive rhythm and multi-tracked male vocals an octave apart (always an effective trick, kids!); there’s also a nice bit of shimmering synth near the end. Singer Alexis Taylor has a nifty little way of doing a call-and-response all by himself, as in this track’s “I got lost/He said this was the way back” chorus. “Colours” then proceeds to set a record for repeating that word probably the most times ever in a song, but in a thoroughly beguiling manner. The rhythm is infectious, there’s a kind of twittering-bird synth that graces the latter part of the song (in fact, electronics whiz Joe Goddard has a propensity for coming up with effective pings, buzzes, and whirs that enliven almost every track), and once again the vocals are a delight. “I’m everything a girl could need/There’s nothing in this heart but me/If everything you want is free,” Taylor sings, and just when you’re sorry to see this perky tune come to an apparent end, surprise—it keeps going. Nice! “Over and Over” completes this fantastic trio of ace tracks with a kick-ass rhythm, some effective guitar distortion, and a bit of lyrical straightforwardness that is so spot-on, it’s inspiring: “The joy of repetition really is in here.” Thanks, guys, we can tell that from the way you milk every catchy element of your sound for all it’s worth.

“Tchaparian” is an enjoyable enough song that alternates between two different melodic elements, but the other real classics here are the luminous ballad “Look After Me,” which Taylor sings with exceptional warmth over a George Martin–style arrangement; “Arrest Yourself,” which is electro-peppy pop that once again illustrates the benefit of repeating a cool phrase; and the intoxicating closer “No Fit Stage,” a bright, multitextured tune that you never want to end. “I’m in no fit state/I’m in no fit shape,” goes the chorus over and over, with Taylor filling in things like “to drink out of your cup” or “to act a fool in love” to illustrate what he thinks he’s in no shape for. I don’t know, guys—on the evidence of this smart, chic little platter, I’d say you’re in perfectly fine shape not only to broaden your audience, but to add to the creative dialogue regarding what makes great modern electronic pop. The Warning makes itself heard loud and clear on that score.

 


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