Hot Chip gets a lot of flak for being overrated. I’ve heard my share, and hell, we’re even split here at QuitMumbling Headquarters (QMHQ). Sure, on stage they are a bunch of awkward guys moving around a little bit, but on record, they’re an electronic band with soul that’s at times pure insanity, and in others, when they hit their stride, completely heartbreaking.
Their electropop is not just an excuse for thin vocals and trite lyrics. Amidst all the sounds coming at you from every direction, the vocals are always clean, crisp, and kind – and it’s a contrast that’s at once off-putting and comforting. There are songs with moments of gorgeousness, when all the sounds aren’t overbearing but lush, that make you forget everything else around you – these specific moments hit such the perfect tone that it more than compensates for any missteps elsewhere. Basically, what I’m saying is, Hot Chip will break your legs.
I haven’t figured out what makes “Shake a Fist ” way too much and “Boy From School” just enough, other than a general lack of any structure or direction, but I do know that they are at their best when they dial it back for slow-burners – “Wrestlers”, “Crap Kraft Dinner”, “One One One”, “Look After Me”, “The Warning”, amongst others. These songs feel more focused and less deliberate, maybe because there’s actually room for the songs to breathe, but it’s hard to argue their sweet spot – cathartic dance songs that by their end make things seem a little less daunting. Sometimes it feels like they are trying really hard to be something they’re not, making harder-hitting music than is comfortable, like the nice guy beneath the asshole exterior. They have a way of dealing with complicated emotions and ideas really calmly, with a steady voice through all the noise, and that confidence is reassuring.
The one currently stuck on repeat is “So Glad To See You”. To me, the song is about the monotony we feel in the routine of relationships because as humans we are fickle and always want more than we have at any moment, especially when we’re young; when everything feels repetitive, like a rehearsed performance – the courting, the bliss, the dependence, the wandering, and eventually, the end. Though that may sound grim (“when we come together then we forget ourselves”, when we come together then we meet other souls/and then we make our goodbye”), that isn’t fully the point of the song (plus, try to get to “I have but one true friend..” and tell me you don’t like how that feels). It’s that even though we have these relationships that seem to just come and go, we can’t let it harden us because they’re all important and have their place – just try to be present for every experience because it’s harder than it sounds. Get out of the past and future you’ve created in your head, and actually try to just be here, now. That, or the song could just be about birds. Check out the track off their 2006 album The Warning below.