“Ready for the Floor” is without question, one of the best songs of the past ten years. Its bumping beats, the playful blips and beeps, the soaring melody and Alexis Taylor’s crisply sweet vocals all made up for one amazing song. And as much as it was easily the best song on Hot Chip’s Made in the Dark, it just as easily towered over everything else making the rest of the music stale in comparison. But for Hot Chip, that problem was due to the plain fact that the rest of the music just didn’t live up to their high standards of synth pop/dancefloor ready romps.
They dangerously tried to do too much on that album: they tried the balladry possible in electronic music, they tried to deliver glorious club hits, they tried to propel their other songs into something even-keeled and direct but mostly, they tried to put too much together into an album that just couldn’t survive. And even though, with just a few listens, it had many, including yours truly, believing they had hit their stride. Repeated listens quickly proved otherwise and after three albums, Hot Chip needed to either diminish what they had or very frankly, step it up.
Fortunately, One Life Stand is not only an impeccably constructed album – one that sways and teeters from lush song to lush song – but it’s one of the finest albums 2010 will have to offer. You see, the British dance band was already known for delivering fine slices of music every now and then and their live show proved to be a substantially enjoyable experience. But never, ever, have they consumed all of the strengths, all of their fantasies, all of their dreams and mashed them altogether to make something as rousingly jubilant as One Life Stand. And now, as Taylor sings on opener, “Thieves in the Night,” “happiness is what we all want, may it be that we don’t always want,” there’s not much else to want now.
Quickly diminishing any kind of loaded comment with personal lyrics, heartfelt storylines and even better, music that equally matches with every step, Hot Chip has entered the realm where their craft has been mastered. Before, you could always note that their albums had potential, that they showed promise, or whatever other back-handed compliment you wanted to throw in and now, there’s no need for that. To begin, their sequencing is one that rewards with repeated listens. The first four songs grab you and with gripping hooks and bumping melodies, you are sucked in. Then the middle section showcases a softer underbelly of poignant words of bonds, relationships and togetherness. And finally, the ending comes full circle with a buoyant support of beats, rhythms and more touching lyrics. Spectacularly hopeful and romantic, Taylor and his counterparts sings “And oh, my heart has flown to you just like a dove. It can fly, it can fly.” It’s recovered from the bitter break it suffered and is ready to conquer and be loved again – in fine fashion; it’s a wonderful way to close the album out.
And that title, One Life Stand, is beautifully played out on its accompanying title track. A booming beat cascades at the beginning like a pounding at your door and its Taylor, asking to be let in. While the layers are grouped around a whirl of dash and glamour, the song grooves with a nervy amount of poise. Eventually, Taylor proclaims that rather than seeking shallow lust, he’s fully ready for an entire life of love in declaring, “You will always be my baby…I only want to be your one life stand.” Even with that, you can simply get lost in a hip-shaking, body-moving jive that is “We Have Love.” Celebrating what they’ve found, the music is utterly captivating, without ever letting loose and why not; there is no reason to ever stop moving.
You’d be hard pressed to find something as ravenously stunning as One Life Stand and believe me, if you think you have then please let me know. The best treat in any kind of music following is when a band who’s been dabbling in greatness for a while finally comes to the plate and smashes a home run over the fences. It’s sincerely deserving of praise because Hot Chip has presented an unstoppable force of exceptional music to behold. When the minute mark of “I Feel Better” comes around, there are few who will ever match that sole musical moment, let alone the magic overwhelming this album.