The first time I had ever listened to Hot Chip, I was 13. I had stumbled across a vibrantly Technicolor video on MTV starring an incredibly awkward yet carelessly comfortable man dressed half like The Joker, and half like someone who could have passed for one of my classmates at the time. Stylistically comparable to New Order's "True Faith" video, I had assumed that it was a new release. But I knew I was wrong. This was not made in the 80s. I had no idea who they were, what kind of music this was, or why I felt the uncontrollable urge to start spastically flailing my limbs in imitation of the man on the screen. I successfully managed to bring my mother to her breaking point after my kid sister began to echo my "do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, do-it, now" routine, the only part I remembered from the contagious Made In the Dark
cut, "Ready For the Floor."
Flash forward seven years later and Hot Chip are now seasoned synth pop veterans, responsible for churning out several superb albums, as well as becoming representatives of modern day British electronic pop music. Their latest effort, Why Make Sense?
, contains themes common to previous Hot Chip albums, with Alexis Taylor's lyrics making tribute to romanticism, friendship, love, and fried chicken. The release incorporates these topics with a modern day twist, focusing on the anxiety of our increasingly autonomic world where purchasable, tangible assets seem to be overtaking the importance of the priceless, intangible ingredients that constitute human emotion.
On the opening cut, "Huarache Lights," Taylor finds peace in his reflective Nike sneakers, knowing that upon seeing "the beams of those huarache lights/ every single thing will be just right." He later addresses the inevitability of his aging generation, where the things that will do the job better are the replacements for what's being used today. Arguably the strongest track on the album, "Huarache Lights" illustrates the progression of Hot Chip as they become self-aware of their senior status, looking towards the future instead of nostalgically reflecting upon the past as they did on previous albums like The Warning.
Tracks like "Love is the Future" and "Need You Now" are two of the most instantly accessible tracks on the album, perfectly representing Hot Chip's ability to connect dance-pop driven cuts with emotionally charged lyrics; their main goal in avoiding the vapidity found in mechanical and predictable mainstream pop. "Love Is the Future" contains synth's evoking qualities of the early and equally emotional Passion Pit
, but is divided by a verse by Posdnuos of De La Soul, that merely becomes a sonic distraction, containing qualities of forgettable PG-rated 90s rap.
Quality tracks on Why Make Sense?
are separated by less interesting tracks like "Started Right" or the repetitive "Cry For You," which contains an illogically parallel verse and chorus. They become non sequitur by the time the second verse arrives, since the track seems to be two separate, yet potentially praiseworthy ideas that unfortunately are forcibly frankensteined into a sonically exhausting and flat piece.
On previous albums, Hot Chip has always made the time
to slow down
by composing heartfelt ballads that stray away from their customary use of computerized instrumentation, using lyrical and instrumental simplicity to their advantage, as done on "White Wine and Fried Chicken." A testimony to trivial romanticism, the track unpretentiously emphasizes the importance of the seemingly unimportant incidents that may occur between two people, while simultaneously matching the unremarkable meal with a stripped down production style.
The albums title cut concludes the album, containing one massive climax while precisely wrapping up Hot Chip's album-spanning inquiry of "Why make sense?" A powerful and well-placed track, "Why Make Sense?" leaves room for individual interpretation as Taylor questions his audience about why they should make sense, promoting individuality and diverting to the path less taken; one's own path. "Everyone is truly his or her own worst enemy," as Taylor choruses, "A winner lost is always one who chooses."
Despite the album's lack of track consistency compared to their previous releases, Hot Chip's Why Make Sense?
still contains infectious hooks supported by numerous, unforgettable samples, and passionately time-relevant lyrics. By defying the contemporary mainstream pop formula, Hot Chip have the ability to occupy the subconscious by composing rug cutting pieces that will most certainly have you dancing the with your heart on your sleeve.