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Hot Chip: One Life Stand (Album Review)

Four albums into a career that appeared to begin as an art-school goof, Hot Chip look more likely than any of their peers to ascend one day to the intellectual electro-pop heights of Pet Shop Boys or Scritti Politti. As with those acts, personality is a big part of Hot Chip’s appeal (especially to rock critics); frontmen Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard are both sweet record nerds who would have been some other kind of nerds had records not come along.

Yet equally appealing is the band’s generous view of dance music as an open-ended form, one with enough room for slow songs and piano ballads and earnest lyrics about monogamy and domesticity and playing Xbox with your brother. Hot Chip make the disco sound like a bedroom and (even more impressive) vice versa.

Fuller than usual of slow songs and piano ballads, One Life Stand is their mellowest, most thoughtful effort so far — which means it carries the risk of also being their most boring. (Contrast is one of their secret weapons, though it didn’t seem like such a big deal until now.) But keep listening: slow to reveal, its charm is just as slow to fade.