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HOT CHIP A Bath Full of Ecstasy gets 8/10


Hot Chip

A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Domino

8/10

Hot Chip are one of the most consistent pop bands of the last 15 years, and A Bath Full of Ecstasy only cements that reputation. Perhaps this comes with the territory. Hot Chip are slyly self-aware and their shtick is in pairing hot with cold. Euphoric dance beats are set against thought provoking, self-reflective and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

This half-jokey, analytical approach has lent itself to some great music. Think Steely Dan, 10cc, Sparks, or Ween. These are classic bands not just because of self-aware words, but also self-aware music. Genres are deconstructed, and tropes turned on their head. Hot Chip aren’t likely to deliver anything as left-field as 12 Golden Country Greats anytime soon, but their eye for detail results in consistently well thought-through, interesting and catchy dance albums. Add this to the list.

But first let’s get the duds out of the way. The title track sucks, with plodding verses and a stupid chorus melody intentionally buried in silly warbling auto-tune. And final track No God is a dull close to the album. It drags, being too melodically obvious for a band with such a consistently good ear. Thankfully this is where the negatives end.

The production is as pristine as ever, with the band turning to outside producers for the first time. The sound is more Balearic house than before, with a few more four-on-the-floor dance numbers and a tempo that tends not to let up. Opener Melody of Love boasts the sweetest vocal on the album and is achingly beautiful. Spell is a moody number and the best-produced song on the album, with some seductively deep ‘zooping’ synths underpinning the verses. It also lays claim to the album’s first Catchy Hot Chip Chorus TM, a musical event that happens with such regularity it should be trademarked.

Cases in point follow. Echo has a slow verse but Hot Chip come through with a banger of a chorus, including a “coming up” refrain that is pure pop bliss. Single Hungry Child is the album highlight. It builds slowly over the first minute, running once through before percussion kicks in and it develops into an utterly euphoric house track full of epic piano and synth lines and soulful house vocals. This might end up my most-played track of the year.

Positive calls for optimism and selflessness in this post-Brexit world, and the mood is suitably uplifting. Frontman Alexis Taylor pulls off some lovely vocal flourishes, and the snatches of harmonisation are a treat as usual. And Clear Blue Skies is a great Kraftwerk-y deep cut complete with vocoder effects, soft synths and calm, droning chords. The lyrics see Hot Chip in a considerate mood, acknowledging the benefits of spirituality even if they may not feel it in their own blackened, rational English hearts. I don’t see Hot Chip deep-diving into Christian hymnals anytime soon, but it’s a refreshing sentiment to hear from the band. Maybe they’re growing more humble with age. That quiet confidence can only grow when they keep pumping out albums of this quality.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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