CD Review of Made in the Dark by Hot Chip
Recommended if you like
LCD Soundsystem, Phoenix
Hot Chip: Made in the Dark

Reviewed by Taylor Long


ith the follow up to their break-out album, The Warning, Hot Chip have found their punch. They boasted the ability to break legs in their third album’s title track, but idled in mid-tempo enough to turn that into a false threat. Made in the Dark follows through on that claim with a higher potential for success.

Made in the Dark is almost as much of a rock album as it is a dance or electronic one, put together with bits and pieces of all three – a retro guitar line here, eccentric percussion there, glitchy bleeps and bloops everywhere. This is a considerably more aggressive approach. It yields mixed results, but they're positive more often than not.

The first single, "Shake a Fist," is a bit schizophrenic. There's a Todd Rundgren sample that breaks things up a bit, and the beat changes after a minute or two. It makes for an uneven pace, but it improves once it gets going. It's an apt single, because it captures the overall feeling of the album: constantly shifting.

"Ready for the Floor" sounds like the Hot Chip from The Warning, but with a bit more kick, as does "We're Looking for a Lot of Love." Sandwiched between them is an unfortunate example of where their added rock value fails them in "Bendable Poseable," which feels a little too sluggish.

For each place where their newfound vigor misses, though, there are easily two where it works. "Touch Too Much" is the quickest song that's not all over the place. It's one of the standout tracks, as is "Hold On," both for its funky guitar and bass lines and its lyrics: "I'll only go to Heaven if it feels like Hell / I'll only go to Heaven if it tastes like caramel." They use their vocal contrast rather metaphorically here, with Joe Goddard's deep, robust voice seeming to play the Hell to Alexis Taylor's higher tones of Heaven.

Surprisingly, it's the slower tracks that sour Made in the Dark, when they had the capability to be the band's honey in the past. The title track is good enough to explain its inclusion, but the last four tracks feel like tacked-on filler. The album falls on the longer side, so it could have been preferable to turn the ending quarter into an EP, particularly as the songs are cohesive together, but not in the context of what precedes them.

In finding their force, Hot Chip found a new skin that's fresher and better fitting than the one before it. Now if only they could completely shed the old one.

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