Review Summary: A blip on their shoulder?
As many women may tell you, men cannot multi-task. Here’s one for you bitter, cynical laydeez out there: it’s possible to both listen to In Our Heads
AND exercise concurrently. If the mental image of a bearded, miserable Englishman sweating up a storm to Hot Chip’s fourth LP is akin to a Lovecraftian nightmare, then accept my most sincere apologies.
Of course, music that you can quietly tone up alongside tends to be missing something. Walk into any gym in the world and blasting out of their speakers or televisions is more often than not vapid, repetitive crap; something to zone out to whilst you try to replicate that unattainable figure that Men’s Health magazine keep on prodding you into achieving. That’s why we have iPods. Just think, right now somebody could be lifting weights to the dulcet drawl of Sunn O))).
The obvious conclusion to draw here is that Hot Chip have created an album of gym-going substance. That is to say, barely any. It’s a tough one to answer with any conviction. The first thing you’ll notice missing from In Our Heads
is the willingness to experiment that underpinned their previous albums. 2006’s mainstream breakthrough The Warning
featured the wondrous “And I Was A Boy From School”, the lullaby-esque “Colours” and the scatty “Careful.” 2008’s Made In The Dark
featured “Ready For The Floor”, a bubbly little earworm. One Life Stand
, released in 2010, showed a certain maturity and adherence to deviation looking to burst through.
Alas, this growth appears to have been cast aside in favour of a more safe and comfortable collection of songs bearing themes that long-time fans may find familiar. “These Chains” beckons us to play voyeur on the place where the vocalist and his unnamed beau “first made out.” The idea of innocence, a sort of child-like wide eyed wonder, is one that permeates Hot Chip’s discography. “Night And Day” carries on the theme of a more simplistic attitude to matters pertaining to the heart; “The way I feel about you, baby/in the middle of the night” is the track’s overall message. It might come across and naïve and even a tad immature, but it can be a welcome antidote to the unsubtle raunch that dominates other similarly chart-bothering songs.
The main problem with In Our Heads
is its musical anonymity. Barring the tender, guitar-led “Look At Where We Are”, the majority of the songs present up-tempo, bouncy numbers that, whilst undeniably fun, are largely derivative not only of their own work but plenty of others. “Flutes” is one track that can really test your patience. Wheezing over the finish line at seven minutes, it’s too long by half.
That’s not to say the album is a dud. Hot Chip appear to be both talented and careful enough to know what works. Album opener “Motion Sickness” is propelled by synth stabs, vocal harmonies and sultry bass work and “How Do You Do"” reminds you of something LCD Soundsystem would have conjured up had James Murphy spent his days guzzling Prozac.
Yes, this album will certainly get in your head, but how long it stays there is another matter.