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June 18, 2012

Album Review: Hot Chip ‘In Our Heads’

by @thoughtontracks

We often spend far too much time searching for the next best thing rather than enjoying and acknowledging what we already have.  There is a certain allure, or even sexiness, to the unknown, whether it be music or the opposite sex.  It’s not so much the inability to enjoy what we already know, but rather the thought that what we don’t know could be better.  If you’re one of these people who constantly find themselves in predicaments like this, you probably fear normalcy and commitment.  The catch 22 of all this is of course, if you can’t ever be happy with the normal, you are never going to have anything sustainable.  The search is what you crave, not so much the result.  And in the end, you could very well end up never finding anything.

London’s Hot Chip released their fifth studio album In Our Heads last week.  The first follow up to the critically acclaimed One Life Stand in 2010, the album represents a culmination of sorts for the band.  No longer the younger, brash group from the early 2000’s whose songs were as much about quirkiness as they were dance, life has happened to the group and that change is reflected in their music.  They have wives, kids, houses…in short they’ve done what we all do, age.  Just looking at the song titles when compared to their major label debut Coming On Strong in 2004.  On that album you have songs entitled “The Beach Party”, “Playboy”, and “Crap Kraft Dinner”.  Now, you are songs like “Don’t Deny Your Heart”, “Always Been Your Love”, and “Ends of the Earth”.  Sense a bit more seriousness in their craft?

That’s not to say this album doesn’t deliver what Hot Chip wants to.  In the end, this is still “get those feet moving” dance music that you’d expect at your favorite club on a Saturday night.  “How Do You Do” and “Don’t Deny Your Heart” are perhaps the most perfect examples of this on the album.  They are your classic Hot Chip material: a fast driving electro beat that pushes the song and catchy hooks.  But this album features the band continuing to dive into a slower, more methodical, style.  “Look at Where We Are” is a beautiful 90’s R&B slow jam that is last dance prom music for hipsters.  In a similar style, “Flutes” features seven minutes of build and tempo before getting to the ultimate point that “One day you might realize, that you might need to open your eyes.”

But perhaps the best song on In Our Heads that truly symbolizes the sound of this album is the lengthy “Let Me Be Him” which features the “moment” on this album where at the 4:30 mark Alexis Taylor belts out amongst a church like chant, “Let me be him.  My soul, my love, is running away with me, and I won’t leave it all to you.”  The album comes to a close with the soothing “Always Been Your Love” which resembles a church congregation chant of unity and togetherness.  And perhaps that what a band like Hot Chip wanted to accomplish with their voice and thousands of fans…a feeling and knowledge that we’re all in this together.  And that’s precisely why you can’t continue to chase the unknown, because when all is said and done, you’ll be the only one left standing their alone.

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Written by Greg Dahman

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