Hot Chip, 'Made in the Dark' (Astralwerks)

8
Made in the Dark
Critical Mass
Label: Astralwerks/DFA

by Barry Walters

Hot Chip are the rare dance act with songs that could be sung round the campfire. On 2006's The Warning, they decried and embraced that strength -- "Over and Over" was a response to charges that their debut album was "laid-back," and "And I Was a Boy From School" featured poignant Simon & Garfunkel harmonies. On their third full-length, they further exaggerate those extremes, jacking up the guitar friction alongside unabashed ballads.

Countless electronic acts have unplugged or rocked out to escape the dance ghetto. Instead, Hot Chip strip away the digital clicks to reveal deeper analog quirks. A wobbly wooziness permeates Made in the Dark, as the band's thrift-shop synths wheeze on the brink of breakdown. Perversely, the result is even more danceable. On the mischievous "Ready for the Floor," singer Alexis Taylor solicits a boogie partner as keyboards flutter and the band gushes in barbershop harmony, "You're my number one guy." It's so gay, and it's so gonna be your next favorite song.

Fellow songwriter Joe Goddard offsets Taylor's quaint croon with a droll deadpan, and together they ride a tense, caffeinated groove that climaxes in the clipped guitar panic of "Hold On." The album's slow cuts waft on serene white soul, but whatever the tempo, Hot Chip enliven their mix of indie club and British music hall with a surreal playfulness. This is some serious whimsy.

Now Hear This:Hot Chip - "Ready For the Floor" WINDOWS MEDIAHot Chip - "Shake a Fist" WINDOWS MEDIA

Now Watch This:Hot Chip - "Ready For the Floor" WINDOWS MEDIA

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