Hot Chip
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Hot Chip

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The best kept secret in music


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Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hot Chip began their acclaimed 2004 debut Coming On Strong with heartfelt advice and a warning, “Take care into the home”, before taking you for a musical ride around their own. They begin their astonishing sophomore record with a different kind of warning: “FIRE IS HOT, STEEL CAN CUT /GLASS WILL BREAK IF YOU’RE NOT … CAREFUL!”…Triumphant and gloopy synths begin the frenetic and bewildering Careful, giving way to rave rhythms, war drums, syrupy vocals, computed crowd chants and a song celebrating balloons and physical intimacy; the frenetic opening minutes of this truly adventurous record.

Careful cuts through the listener and represents a more confrontational sound for Hot Chip, usually found only in their visceral live show. The confrontation is echoed throughout the rest of the album, whose musical inventiveness almost pokes fun at the caution in the lyrics. Joe Goddard explains: “The completion of Careful was a major turning point in the process of making this album. I wanted it be a real departure from the first album, but Alexis and I were worried that the music we wanted to make was incompatible. Once we’d managed to complete this track together, though, it re-affirmed our belief that we could find common ground.”

Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard began to work on the album in earnest. Out of the tension of these sessions, with the two songwriters / producers pulling against one another, there eventually emerged some great moments of beauty, laughter, love and slaughter. Where one man cannot talk of his pain, another can record it. And then fuck with it. Then you get Owen in to mash into the guitar like nobody else. And while Felix is pushing synthesizers through a ‘Machinedrum’, quick, record him while he’s not looking, and Al can come over all Eno/Manzanera - he’s got nimble fingers and vocal chords. It’ll work, don’t worry. This became Hot Chip’s ‘creative process’. And it really did work. But be careful, it's crazy in there…

The Warning is an amalgamation of great songwriting and forward-thinking pop-production. It’s an honest record – emotionally and sonically, made by people exploring sound in the warmth of home, not studio, and it is a brittle pairing of voices which sing of LOVE, COLOURS, LOSS, and WARNINGS. It is the only record you will hear this year, which is brave enough to try and better all of the best records of yesteryear and tomorrow. If you want something which evokes the textures of Aphex Twin recordings, Madlib’s sense of deranged hip-hop holiday, the intimacy of Prince’s fantastically claustrophobic parades, and more than merely the spirit of certain wonderful Paul McCartney experiments in disco, Hot Chip would recommend The Warning. It’s cheaper than buying the Richard D James Album, Madvillainy, Dirty Mind and McCartney II after all.

Of the title track, Joe explains: “The Warning comes from a real love of 2-step garage rhythms and melodies…the rhythmic devices used in programming garage appear everywhere in Hot Chip, and I still find some garage records to be amongst the funkiest and most soulful.” While The Warning insists that “Hot Chip will break your legs, snap off your head” over a luxurious garage beat, Look After Me speaks plainly of the growing distance between a couple, and acknowledges vulnerability and the need for unequivocal support between two people. Alexis: “Ever since seeing it on The Box in the late ‘90s I had been hooked on Sparkle’s duet with R Kelly, ‘Be Careful’. Eventually I tried to rip off the chord structure, melody and mood to make the beginnings of ‘Look After Me’. For the middle-eight section’s descending chord progression I mimicked the synth-line in Prince’s ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ almost note for note. Joe heard what I thought was a take on the modern R&B ballad to be more in keeping with an old-fashioned soul classic of the Al Green ilk, and we were soon adding plucked live violins and very soft drumming.”

Somewhere between these unspoken ideas emerges an incredibly personal Hot Chip song, tying the record together at the center and underpinning the album’s mood of caution and warning. But it’s also a song that openly borrows from other records in an attempt to make something new, encapsulating the duality of the Hot Chip sound, at once very “felt”, and very considered.

The bathos of Coming On Strong is more often than not replaced by pathos in The Warning. And I Was A Boy From School, a beautifully melancholy ballad of loss and acceptance, is Hot Chip’s greatest pop moment so far – wonderful in its simplicity; heartbreaking in its honesty: “ We tried, but we didn’t have long, We tried but we didn’t belong…”. But Boy From School began life as a Casio waltz, before looking towards the spirit of Giorgio Moroder. Joe explains: “'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer was in my mind. I thought if you could combine that rhythmical power with a beautiful chorus then you could make a dance record that would be much better than most. In fact, th