There comes a time where music is able to portray everything through pure driving sound; unforced and undivided, its attention spans images and more by way of fusing styles and methods. The right kind of blend is always when the sounds: finely layered and lushly ornate, combine with the story: delicately quirky and unabashedly heartfelt, for a particularly beautiful passage of music. For the last two albums, Hot Chip has been entirely nailing whatever aforementioned pure trait that would be – in terms of composition a swirling drive of instruments, beats, and treatments that never let up – and fortunately for the listener, a true kaleidoscope of gorgeous sounds.
In terms of electronic music, it’s justly a crime to many acts once we start trying to classify them. Nowadays, a band like Hot Chip has gotten tagged so many different things, where would we start? In Our Heads ensures that the various styles one can impose don’t matter anymore; songs flow in and out through the band’s composed state of performance and the pulse is all that matters. At the heart of the album is “Flutes,” the actual lead single to the album, that with subtle touch and premise sucks you in for a seven-minute ride of intrepid dance music. The flutes that play in the background highlight the dreamy feelings he has and realizing the terrible mirage, the music towers through tempo changes and volume modifications with impressive ease. Like the cover would hope you do, this is music to celebrate life with and to joyously fashion because it’s certainly amazing.
As for the styles it contingently does explore, In Our Heads combines a true influence by the 80s as a lot of the sounds travel through the synth highway like a fantastically good time. Bookended by two of its best songs it starts with an ode to the lost feelings of nostalgia and compact discs, as if the times are just beginning. And by the time the dance ends, all he can ask for is reflection on “Always Been Your Love.” The lulling synthesizer and soft drum pattern are a sweet combination, it should be well noted that Alexis Taylor’s voice continues to sound richer and even more beautiful each time out. The honest exposure and exceptionally magnetic emotion to “Look at Where We Are” is spellbinding alone, but it’s nothing really without Taylor’s brilliant vocals. There’s an apparent nod to R&B’s strengths on the love track but Taylor ensures its breathy delivery with fantastic results.
A kaleidoscope almost sounds forced – when one uses it for the wrong kind of album I suppose – but it surely makes sense (at its purest definition) here. The almost Latin drive and presence of “Night and Day” makes for tremendous highs with the drums always progressing forward, and the pulsating feel and pace of “How Do You Do?” showcases more excellent keyboards with trademark Hot Chip lyrics that paint an optimistic picture. By the time Taylor proclaims that “a church is not for praying, it’s for celebrating the life that bleeds through the pain…that shines through the pain,” the sounds have consumed your undivided attention with outstanding beats and drums.
On their latest effort, One Life Stand, the band contemplated a myriad collection of different shades of love through thriving, emphatically stellar sounds. Whether it’s the opening swell and build of “Thieves in the Night,” or the enticing groove and tumultuous pulse of “We Have Love,” there was always the factor of just getting lost in the music. The former introduces atmospherics that contrast the bubbling synths and stunning string lay-out while the latter masks a techno-driven beat into flourishing pop. It’s a focused kind of electronic that always presents the hugeness of the moment to the foreground – the louder you play it, the better. Hot Chip makes it so wonderfully (thank you “Louie”) possible to play music at their highest levels and enjoy the bliss. In Our Heads is no different than its predecessor at blending soaring strands of life together, it’s just dissimilar to the point that the styles don’t matter anymore, the band has totally taken over our heads.