ALBUM REVIEW: HOT CHIPWHY MAKE SENSE?

On Why Make Sense? UK electronica outfit Hot Chip serve up a quirky and clever mix of sounds, delivering a very satisfying dance album.

As you might expect, this is a very synth heavy recording. What makes it most engaging, though, is the use of ‘live’ drums and occasional guitars, resulting in an authentic, organic texture. Together with a creative array of vocal sounds, this is very much an album in the Daft Punk vein, but with enough of its own distinctive character.

HotChip albumA feast for the ears, Why Make Sense? displays an abundance of creativity in the production mix. But there’s also striking restraint here, with enough space that the listener never gets overloaded. What separates Hot Chip from many other electronica acts is that they do, indeed, sound like a band. And with all the cleverness on show, Hot Chip don’t forget the value of a strong melody.

Despite a thoroughly modern sound, there’s a distinct flavour of classic R’n’B on the album. ‘Started Right’ provides some delicious seventies disco, with some funky clavinet to get things started. This era is similarly evoked by the strings on ‘Dark Night’.

We even get into slow love ballad territory on ‘White Wine and Fried Chicken’. However, as its title suggests, this track is distinguished by some nice lyrical playfulness; you have to smile when Alexis Talyor cheekily rhymes “fried chicken” with “my heart has permission”.

In fact, romantic notions abound on the album (evident in titles such as ‘Love is the Future’ and ‘Cry for You’), and for the first two thirds of the recording we get a light, whimsical feel. But that’s not the end of the story, with the final few tracks turning to larger ideas, proving there’s greater thematic purpose to Hot Chip.

Second single, ‘Need You Now’, takes us into slightly darker, political territory, questioning the state of the world against a probing synth and soulful backing vocals. The album then closes over an urgent drum beat, with the title track asking “why make sense when the world around us refuses”.

Adding to the album experience, every physical copy of the album (available on both CD and vinyl) comes with its own unique cover art. This is a very nice touch that tangibly adds to the music buying experience in direct contrast to the dominant culture of downloads and streaming.

It’s very clear that, at every stage, this is band who care very much about what they are crafting. And we are all the better for it.

Why Make Sense? is out now from Domino.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor