| POSTED BY: ANDREW GRUTTADARO
Like good sports teams (read: the Miami Heat), oftentimes good bands have trouble figuring out who they are and confidently adopting that identity. With In Our Heads, Hot Chips fifth full-length album, it seems as though they have finally done just that. And you can hear it within the first minute and a half of the album. "Motion Sickness" begins with shuttering percussion and a synthesizer and builds extensively from there, adding a high frequency noise, horns, drums, background vocals, and even more synthesizer. By the time Alexis Taylor begins to sing, the song has already sank its teeth into its listeners. And Hot Chip refuses to let go until the noise stops.
This is what they're best at -- showcasing their musical talent in interesting and expansive ways while also not losing any catchiness or melody. And where past Hot Chip albums have been too obtuse or experimental, In Our Heads finds itself in an electro-indie pop sweet spot with a welcome R&B tint.
This time around Hot Chip seems fearless. Unafraid to let the music breathe and go on and on (a few songs break the 7-minute mark); unafraid to embrace their 80s influences; and unafraid to speak emotionally and honestly. Ironically enough, the majority of songs on In Our Heads deal with matters of the heart, both positive and negative. Founding band member Joe Goddard, speaking about One Life Stand said, "We didn't sit down and have a band meeting, and say we wanted to write an album about love. But with hindsight, those kinds of things have definitely been affecting us." It seems that the band has become even more affected by "those kinds of things," and the result is a refreshing, heartfelt product.
In Our Heads also features Hot Chips versatility in the same way that past albums have. There are the club bangers -- namely "How Do You Do?" and "Night and Day" -- where Hot Chip gets bass-y and upbeat (and weird) in ways that will remind old fans of singles like "Over and Over" and "Ready for the Floor." And then there are the grooving ballads -- "Look At Where We Are" is a strong R&B ballad with high stakes and a great hook.
But it's what makes this album different from the others that makes it great. "Flutes," In Our Heads' strongest track, is a monster musically and while it sounds like Hot Chip, it doesn't sound like anything they've done before (which can really be said about all of In Our Heads). Starting with an odd vocal loop, the intro is a hypnotizing two minutes or so, and the song only evolves more from there. Clocking in at 7:05 -- filled with reiterations of that opening loop, multiple bridges, and increasing vocal layering -- "Flutes" is an example of Hot Chip at their best.
The song that follows "Flutes," "Now There Is Nothing," is another display of what Hot Chip is capable of at full confidence. Its crash/tambourine percussion sets it apart completely from the rest of Hot Chip's catalog and makes it immediately endearing. And then the time change kicks in. "Now There Is Nothing" goes from being a cute, catchy ballad to a captivating, experimental one.
In Our Heads simply doesn't have any weak spots. It's musical complexity in its most accessible form. Where earlier albums attacked the listeners senses at times, In Our Heads lets the listener in, and seduces the senses. With this latest effort, Hot Chip truly figured out who they are and what they're good at, and the results are stunning.