Sunday, May 04, 2008

CD Review: Made In The Dark by Hot Chip

After gaining acclaim with The Warning, Hot Chip returns with their third release Made In The Dark. Filled with a great mix of songs, it's a worthy follow-up to their breakthrough album.

Made In The Dark begins with a one-two-three punch of great tracks. "Out At The Pictures" opens the album and spends a little time building to its energetic hook. Another great upbeat track, "Shake A Fist," follows. This track gets you completely engaged in its beat before abruptly stopping mid-song. A voice tells us that about a game called sounds of the studio, which is just a clever excuse to change up the beat. A new, slightly more frenetic beat starts and soon it seamlessly takes us right back where we started. The whole experience adds a fun twist to an already good track, although the appeal lessens after the first couple of listens.

The album's first single, "Ready For The Floor," comes next and its title is pretty self-explanatory. It's the catchiest song on the album. The hook is addicting and you'll find yourself singing along in no time. There are also plenty of other good tracks to be found on the album. "Wrestlers" features some of the silly charm found on the group's first album, Coming On Strong. With lyrics like "I've got a roll of coins / Aiming for your loins" and a rundown of wrestling moves ranging from "half-nelson" to "Willie Nelson," you can't help but be amused. Like "Shake A Fist," Don't Dance also changes its beat mid-song. What makes this song stand out is the way it's handled. While "Shake A Fist" stops completely to let everybody take a breather, "Don't Dance" actually ramps things up and keeps the pace going all the way until the end.

There are also some surprising quiet tracks. On these tracks, Hot Chip pare things down and keep the instrumentation (especially the electronics) fairly light. A good example of this approach is the title track, which is driven mainly by a simple, sparse drum beat. "In The Privacy Of Our Love," the album's closing track, is another track where less is more. The song begins with simply vocals, piano, and hand claps.

Made In The Dark is a solid album that's often a lot of fun to listen to. Whether it's pulse-pounding dance, slightly goofy pop, or tender love songs, Hot Chip shifts styles easily. It's not exactly as good as their previous album, The Warning, but it comes close. Some mediocre tracks bog things down a bit. However, one of the best things about this group is how you never quite know what to expect from song to song let alone album to album. They could go any number of routes for their next album, which will make the wait seem that much longer.

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