herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

A startling, satisfying chip off the old block

HOT CHIP IN OUR HEADS (Domino)

Since they first popped their cartoon heads up almost a decade ago, Hot Chip have always seemed a bit too clever-clogs for their own good.

Five studious-looking chaps from Putney, they approached a wayward indie-tronica with a philatelist's passion for locating that rare stamp from Tanganyika which might feature a monarch's head and a giraffe.

While you might admire their fixation, it was difficult to completely commit when they slipped into head boy indie-disco cleverality.

In 2006, they took pop recidivism to previously unchallenged heights of Fresher Week irony with Over And Over, their single of the year.

Since then their steady progress has included much of their last album, One Life Stand. But even then, there was still a disturbing tendency to slip in the novelty sound of a bloody marimba when a car-horn might have been more streetwise.

So what's happened? Miraculously, the quintet have pulled off a startling heist, shoving all the best bits of their diverse musical influences into the soundtrack of one almighty all-nighter. Eleven tracks of whack. Who'd have thought they had it in them?

The album's most satisfying feature is its full sound. Nothing tentative, hesitant or twee. The opening track, Motion Sickness, sets the pace, showcasing the group's evolved ability to mix'n'match layers of sound with a deft touch and an ear for a nagging hook. As soon as you think, "New Order", another musical reference elbows its way onto the soundscape.

How Do You Do is the Deep House beat that launched a million raves given added emotional warmth with luscious intertwining melodies. And then there are unlikely lyrical lines to catch you when you least expect it. "A church is not for praying, it's for celebrating the life that bleeds through the pain."

Flutes sounds like something King Creosote might come up with if he introduced his highland folkrock to trance. Witty album centrepoint, Night And Day is sure to induce mass arm-waving.

In Our Heads is a soundtrack for the summer we wish we had. HHHHI

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