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Hot Chip:: Made in the Dark (Album Review)

“Every time that we walk the streets, I try my best to keep up with the beat,” runs the verse to “We’re Looking for a Lot of Love,” the fifth track off Hot Chip’s third studio album. It’s familiar turf for frontman Al Taylor, who made his name grinding complex emotional equations – from sex to love to growing up – to one common denominator. In Hot Chip’s world, strobe-lit and neon-hued, the dance floor is both a battleground and a stage; it’s the all-encompassing metaphor.

Two years ago, around the time an earlier album, “The Warning” was released, the five-piece band – drums, guitar, bass, keys, vocals – had a finickier relationship with this sort of stuff. Hot Chip made pop music first and let the club DJs dish out the glitchy, bass-heavy remixes. “Made in the Dark,” by contrast, announces its intent early: it’s straight electro, with a naked disdain for the minor key.

Opener “Out at the Pictures,” which Hot Chip has been playing live since at least last year, skitters, madly, across a bass-heavy backbeat. On “Ready for the Floor,” pop is a touchstone, but the backbone – the real heart of the matter – is a Casiotone vamp. Even the wry “Don’t Dance,” a traffic jam of slinky synth riffs, demands precisely the opposite. “If you remember not to tread with caution,” Taylor boasts at the outset, “I’ll make your body speak in full distortion.”
[Matthew Shaer]