With their forthcoming album The Warning
due in May and with them garnering tons of attention on the blogs lately, I figured I'd review their debut full-length which was released November 29, 2005 on Astralwerks.
Ultimately, Hot Chip is best enjoyed as a side dish. Hint: in small portions.*
There's a certain aura of pretense surrounding these guys which is strengthened by lines like: "I'm like Stevie Wonder, but I can see things", "Give up all you suckas, we the tightest mothafuckas", and "You peelin' potatoes while we sonic alligators". Mind you, these fine examples of lyrical profundity all appear in one song, "Keep Fallin'".
But beyond their occassional sophomoric flirtation with faux-gangsta posturing and sometimes downright stupid lyrics, there lies a vague sense of sincerity and a somewhat endearing tongue-in-cheek charm in these sparse electronic soundscapes. An impressive stylistic diversity is present on Coming on Strong
; from the above-mentioned white-boy 'thug-pop' of "Keep Fallin'", to R&B, soul, and electronica. Hell, the impressive "Crap Kraft Dinner" features an extended saxophone outro for christsakes. The lo-fi buzzes, beeps, and casiotones do little to guise the group's evident musical knowledge (clearly music nerds) and a laundry list of influences is readily apparent-- including, but certainly not limited to, four artists name-checked on the album: Stevie Wonder, Prince, Yo La Tengo, and the brothers Ween.
While frequently sounding unfocused and, at times, even blatantly tossed-off, the most conspicuous flaw is the length of the record. At 14 songs and about 65 minutes, Coming on Strong
would have greatly benefited from more careful editing. The album is front-loaded and second half drags considerably. Three or so tracks could have been removed and would not have been missed. The most obvious of these being "Shining Escalade", which sounds way too much like a tune Coldplay's Chris Martin would write for a Spike Lee "Joint", and the sweet but utterly forgettable "One on One".
I have never really read Alternative Press (seems painfully generic), but they provided this very apt description of Coming on Strong
: "Could pass for a set of lo-fi synth demos Sir Paul McCartney cooked up one long weekend for shits and giggles."
File under: Soulful, lo-fi laptop geek-hop.
*so what if their name most likely references chips of the micro variety and not any sort of food...admit it, the lame joke still kinda works
From Coming On Strong
Hot Chip - "Keep Fallin'" Hot Chip - "Take Care" *recommended* Hot Chip - "Crap Kraft Dinner"
What the critics have said:
Prefix Magazine: 3.5/5
Bonuses: These tunes are from their upcoming album The Warning
due out in May:
Hot Chip - "The Warning" *recommended* Hot Chip - "Boy From School"