One Life Stand

Hot Chip

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One Life Stand Review

by Heather Phares

When thinking of Hot Chip, wonky dancefloor movers like “Over and Over” and “Ready for the Floor” are what spring to mind first. However, they’ve always balanced those songs with vulnerable moments, and their sensitive side dominates One Life Stand -- they don’t sound ready for the floor, they sound ready to settle down. Even the most energetic songs feel tempered compared to the neon energy of Made in the Dark and The Warning’s hits, and the album’s more serious feel is immediately apparent on “Thieves in the Night.” Despite its four-on-the-floor pulse and careening synths, Alexis Taylor’s yearning is palpable when he sings “happiness is what we all want.” That sense of urgency drives most of these meditations on deep and lasting love, monogamy, and family, but it’s not the life-or-death variety; it’s more mature than that, accepting that you only have one life to live, so you should find someone you love and live it with them. At its best, One Life Stand is remarkably clear-eyed about that ideal: the title track’s dance between minor and major keys, between doubt and joy, is a brilliant expression of just how complicated happily-ever-after can be. While focusing on vulnerability and maturity is a brave choice for this often cerebrally playful band, it doesn’t always work. “I Feel Better” is a dramatic, Latin-tinged mix of synthetic strings and real emotions, but “Slush” drags, as does “Brothers,” Joe Goddard’s paean to playing Xbox with his family. Later in the album, though, he makes domesticity sound blissful with “Alley Cats”’ rippling guitars, while “We Have Love”’s undeniable groove and “Take It In”’s soft rock-meets-synth pop leanings show that Hot Chip can keep their clever sonics and bare their souls. Though this emotional nakedness is an unusual move after Made in the Dark pushed Hot Chip to a new level of attention and acclaim, it also shows they’re in it for the long haul.

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