Hot Chip Made in the Dark

Hot Chip Made in the Dark
Anyone who’s seen Hot Chip live over the past couple years, where the British electro-pop act have been test-driving new tracks, figured their post-breakthrough record would be a little rockier. And certainly their first studio-produced tracks with the full five-piece band ("Out At The Pictures,” "Hold On,” "One Pure Thought”) head in that direction. But Hot Chip venture in a couple other directions as well. Joe Goddard and singer Alexis Taylor — the songwriters/producers who wrote past records double-handedly — still laid down some dance floor-fillers (blippy first single "Ready for the Floor,” the Todd Rungren-sampling "Shake a Fist”) in their bedroom studios. So what’s most surprising are their forays into pop balladry, previously hinted at in the coda to The Warning’s "Boy From School.” The title track, "Made in the Dark,” is particularly striking. Making wonderful use of Alexis’s near-falsetto and soft piano plinks, it seems almost purpose-built for soothing high school break-ups. They have by no means lost their sense of humour — "Wrestling” is about a faux-beef between Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem over shared band-mate Al Doyle, and you may notice a "Macarena” reference — but for the most part, the irony and gags take a backseat to heartfelt emotion. If past albums sounded a bit like the works of an excitable robot, Made in the Dark proves Hot Chip are well on their way to becoming a real boy.

Do you consider yourselves an electronic dance act or a pop band?
Alexis Taylor: I don’t really care about any description of us particularly. I don’t think it’s helpful to anyone to say we are this type of band. I just think about what music I like and what music I’d like to make. Some of it is country music and some of it is electronic music, some of it is house music and some of it is soul.

You’ve been touring for ages, how did the live show impact your songwriting?
When you’re recording the things you’re capable of doing as a live band maybe things become a little more rudimentary, a little more elemental, because there isn’t so much time to finesse things. The writing is all done, for a song like "One Pure Thought,” in a matter of hours in one room. Whereas some of these other tracks may be written, edited and changed over months.

This album is more extreme than your last. Did you always plan to write rougher and softer songs?
It just happened, really. The more you work together, the more the things you want to do are easier to achieve. Maybe we’re just better at writing these two styles of music than we were a few albums ago so they can all co-exist on one record because the songwriting and production are good enough. (DFA/EMI)