Hot Chip is band from London, and their sophomore record, The Warning is about as close to Electronica as a Punk-Funk band will ever come. Sorry for the blunt opening sentence, but its pretty true. The Warning is a completely danceable album forged from the bleeps and boops of electronica masterminds past, yet it retains that sort of English scene band, with grungy ska loops and a Chav sense of style. The band hit pretty hard with their minimalistic debut album and came back in full swing with an album full of synthesizers and attitude. The biggest difference between the two records is probably how musically dense The Warning is over debut, Coming on Strong. The keyboards build up like a fortress, with stringy melodies weaving between each stone. The end result is a musical jungle of everything from dark dreary beats, to funky guitar and uplifting sound-effects.
The dissonance of The Warning is probably the most surprising thing about it. For a album that’s Brit-pop to the core it has a surprising essence of electronic dominance and slightly distraught loneliness. After the heavy opening synth drive of Careful powers into heart pounding pop track Boy From School and that implodes upon itself into a detached whisper jam its almost obvious that the song Colors would be next. Colors (or Colours as those crazy Brits spell it) is a heavy hearted ballad full of catchy lyrics soft synthesizers and a sexy electronic drum beat. But the real star of the song is singer Joe Goddard’s slightly obtuse voice. Normally it’s full of hilarious quirks and funky humor, but on Colors Goddard delivers an emotional classy performance, complete with a delightfully un-sober and sonically flat (not tone-wise, more of a production thing) Thom Yorke like moan.
Originally Posted by Colors
I’m everything a girl could need
There’s nothing in this heart but me
If everything you want is free
deplores Goddard in the soft, but effective ballad. Another perfect example of The Warning’s uncomfortable dissonance is strange and sad hip-hop esque track, (Just Like We) Breakdown. The song mixes jungle beats with cold hard layers of synth and Goddard and guitarist/back-up singer Al Doyle mumbling and weeping through a very slight reverb effect. Breakdown is a very prominent album highlight, joining Boy From School as a contender for best on album.
But don’t let those songs get you down son. You know every good British electro-punk band’s gonna have a few party jams and this CD is no exception. Looking to get and/or break down? Look no farther than single and respective club banger Over and Over. The song is one of Hot Chip’s funkiest and rockiest (it even has a banging guitar solo), housing a retro disco beat, a load of guitars and even some organ jamming. The mega repetitive chorus to the song is pure punk-funk catch, with vocals and lyrics echoing that of [fellow London native and garage extraordinaire] The Streets. And speaking of Garage another one of The Warning’s upbeat poppers comes in the resident is-it-rap-is-it-rock drug ballad track, Tchaparian. The song has a very minimalistic click track beat with heavy synthesizer use, rumbling bass and a curious sample of a man “oooo” ing. The beat recalls everything from Houston area Southern Rap to Lady Sovereign style party-hop. It gets a bit old, but is fun while it lasts, but that’s how most party songs go, right? I much prefer the album’s darker moments.
Overall this is an album of interesting melodies, funky rhythms and fantastic production. An album to get up and dance to, but an album that makes you think a great deal. The lyrical content isn’t fantastic, but its fun and quirky which makes for some exciting music. Goddard has a good, voice that acts much as a chameleon, changing to fit its background and such, he can get it high as helium or dark as pitch, something many singers these days can’t do for the life of them. The album along with Thom Yorke’s the Eraser shows the comedy and tragedy of modern laptronica. Obviously this album strikes a lighter tone with the listener, but I’d go as far as to say that The Warning makes Yorke’s work look like it was done by the relative scene newbie, rather than the other way around. Each song is delightfully different and (most of them) aren’t very repetitive at all (the fault of many Electronic albums). The album ends on an almost self destructive note with detached and tense dance rocker, No Fit State. The only fitting ending I can come up with for this review would be: Hot Chip is a great band and they have a fantastic album in The Warning. 4.5/5.