Hot Chip

Why Make Sense?

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It's interesting to note that Hot Chip's string of great albums -- beginning with Made in the Dark -- coincided with their exploration of the joys of long-term relationships. Celebrating monogamy while avoiding monotony applies to how they make music, as well: on the surface, Why Make Sense? is another album of wry, kinetic electro-pop from a group that has mastered the style, but it also builds on Hot Chip's roots -- and dance music's origins -- in ways that sound fresh. The band reunited with In Our Heads producer Mark Ralph, and they expand on that album's joyousness, this time imbuing it with elements of R&B, hip-hop, and, especially, disco. "Huarache Lights" feels like the album's mission statement, from its slow and steady groove and un-ironic talkbox to its sample of First Choice's "Let No Man Put Asunder," a sizzling disco testament to commitment that was also sampled by the prime movers of house and techno's early days. Later, Bernard Fowler's cameo on Sinnamon's "I Need You Now" injects an extra dose of passion into the gorgeous "Need You Now." However, unlike Daft Punk's Random Access Memories -- another love letter to dance music's early days -- Why Make Sense? finds Hot Chip looking toward the future. For every moment that sounds like a vintage sample, such as the spiky clavinet running through "Started Right," there's another like "Love Is the Future," where the cameo by De La Soul's Posdnuos reclaims old-school optimism for the 21st century. Elsewhere, Hot Chip's ballads feel even more natural than they did before, with "White Wine and Fried Chicken" delivering emotional and musical comfort food. Still their message is most vibrant on the most danceable songs, such as "Dark Night" and "Easy to Get." It all adds up to a potent reminder that when it comes to life and music, you can't have a future without a past; on Why Make Sense?, Hot Chip explore both in confident and exciting ways.

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