Harvest Festival

Joe Goddard

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Harvest Festival Review

by K. Ross Hoffman

Joe Goddard's solo debut, recorded for his own Greco-Roman imprint, is a largely instrumental, wholly electronic set that finds the chipper Hot Chipper displaying much the same affable good humor and nifty, nuanced knob-twiddling that he brings to his main band. The album's fruit-based titling scheme is an apt one: alongside their generally frisky, frivolous feel, these tracks have an analog warmth and inbred musicality that make them far juicier and more flavorful than your typical faceless techno fare, even sticking within a fairly limited, simple, and at times rather tinny-sounding sonic range. Hot Chip fans looking for an extra serving of the group's full-spectrum emotional electro-pop may find it wanting -- the only proper vocal song, "Lemons and Lime (Home Time)," is likably lush and croony, and makes a nice palate-cleanser in context, but it's fairly slight by the band's standards -- but Harvest Festival offers plenty of its own delights, with its nicely balanced track list spanning fully club-appropriate material and several mellower and/or murkier pieces. "Apple Bobbing" opens the album somewhere in the middle of that range and is an instant highlight, gradually layering one sweetly burbling synth melody over another as a classically styled Chicago house drum track jacks slinkily in the background. The grooves deepen through the disc's dancy first half, nodding to dubstep's woozy bass wobble and twitchy syncopations as they build toward the full-on thumping goofiness of the Biggie-biting "Go Bananas." The back half of the album is more abstract (i.e., not particularly danceable) and moodier, if not necessarily less playful, with a tendency to feel slightly unformed and unfinished -- though "Sour Grapes," with its serene churchy organ figures atop a rolling sea of dubbed-out liquid clicks, is headed in an intriguing direction. Nothing here suggests Goddard ought to consider leaving his day job, but it's a worthy diversion that should please most fans and onlookers curious enough to seek it out.

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