Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?

by Jim Harris Rating:5 Release Date:2015-05-18

When I first heard Hot Chip some 15 years ago, I thought they were a refreshing New Order Lite band with well-rounded electronics eased into serious attempts at your standard pop song structures. I discovered them around the same time I discovered the Australian equivalent of a New Order Lite band, Cut Copy, and have confused the two bands ever since.

Neither of them have come close to a Brotherhood or Low-Life in their catalog or produced a ‘Blue Monday’ or ‘True Faith’. But their clever, bouncy electronics always drew me back. After 15 years, both bands appear to be working hard to render themselves irrelevant in the electronic-pop landscape.

Hot Chip’s previous, In Our Heads, was their finest effort to date. The songs were joyous, tight and beat-heavy, if not a bit too serious in intent. I had high expectations for Why Make Sense, as I expected heavier, stronger electronics wrapped around Mr Taylor’s compelling, childlike croon. 

After the strong opening song, ‘Huarache Lights’, I listened rather squint-eyed and thought, fuck a duck, where is this band headed? Yes, I caught the allusion to Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, but listen carefully: Alexis Taylor is no David Byrne. And unlike that classic Talking Heads album, this treads very little new ground in virtually any territory it swings into. 

While the hype concerning this release says they have ventured into R&B, I would say it’s more like R&R. There is no R&B on this album. (I just heard three R&B bands play at the Broadway Oyster Bar and they would only blink curiously at this band’s attempt at R&B. In fact, the 45 year old, heavily tattooed blonde, who gave a grinding, slow hard-blues explanation of the power of love juices, would probably have this entire band running from the house.)

The second track, ‘Love is the Future’ is so sickly-bouncy it made the back of my mouth curl. When a voice barks out the word "Correction" in amongst the Saturday morning cartoon level beats, I thought I was stuck in a Mall elevator. This sort of saccharin hip-hop continues through tracks such as ‘Started Right’ and ‘Easy to Get’.  

While ‘White Wine and Fried Chicken’ and the nicely dense ‘Need you Now’ have some element of what I expected the album to be, the fluffy hip-hop angles on most of Why Make Sense left me coldly thinking, there are tons of bands doing this alread, Hot Chip, and unfortunately for you, doing it better.

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