Hot Chip started their third full-length album as a sort of group experiment. Everyone held hands and jumped in to the pool at the count of three: they went in with hopes of a live-sounding album, sometimes playing pre-fab lines and structures, and kept the tapes rolling. This did not result in an automatic masterpiece for the people. “We realized they were a bit rubbish,” claims Owen Clarke. “They were all a bit rubbish.” Harsh. Perhaps Clarke and Alexis Taylor were slightly cranky with their assessment after being locked in “airport land” for the past twenty hours prior to the interview, after sustaining epic layovers on their way from Buenos Aires to New York. They might’ve been less than exhilarated at the prospect of jumping another plane back to London but ultimately, they spoke about their newest baby quite tenderly.

“For the last albums, me and Joe made it essentially,” says Taylor, aka the shortest man in the room, aka the Brit with the Lakers paraphernalia* and the ability to break into Prince’s vocal range. “This album, we all made it together.” That’s where the complete takes came from originally, and while it sound like some of that material ultimately went into the album, it was missing a fundamental aspect of any Hot Chip album- the booms and the baps, the heavy production that makes it into powerful music, whether it’s dance, electro, or in the case of one track on Made In The Dark, piano ballads. The original tracks “just sounded like there was not much to with production in them,” says Taylor. “It was just straight up and down,” adds Clarke. It doesn’t sound like this impasse caused much of an existential crisis for the band. “We made it better,” Taylor concludes.

The resulting album is more “polarized”, Taylor claims, with less densely-packed tracks that feature fewer percussion parts and more of an emphasis on pop structuring and vocals. There are also the dance bangers we’ve grown to expect and love from the team. “We’ve kind of always done it that way anyway,” says Taylor. This one, apparently, is “more 3D”. Whether he means the tracks are imaged more intensely or they come equipped with 3D glasses (they said that so far, that wasn’t gonna happen), I’ll take that as a metaphor for the depth of contributions from everyone in the group.

The extra elements, perhaps unseen until now on a Hot Chip album, aren’t necessarily a sudden turn from form. “We didn’t write more[material], we just included more on the album,” explains Taylor. “We were allowed.” They have plenty of unreleased material floating around, and the resulting amalgamation takes chances. Taylor resurrects Paul Simon’s pre-Graceland outing Hearts and Bones as a frame of reference: “rhythms that are subtly interesting, complex rhythms but they’re not the dominant thing; you can be engrossed in the song itself, there’re weird vocoders and synth…” Taylor trails off and then corrects any misgivings about what a Paul Simon vs. Hot Chip mash up might look like: “It’s not just a sad song stuck on top of a house track.”

None of this is a sea change for the band. While there are talks of organic drumming for their live show (“Felix feels tied to the drum machines”), Made In The Dark doesn’t sound like a stretch, regardless of any experimentation they claim on paper. It might be the band’s most honest representation of themselves yet.

–Jeremy Krinsley

http://www.hotchip.co.uk