How do you like your chips? Perhaps you’re a fan of a thick cut pub chip with a crunchy skin and a fluffy middle. Or maybe you prefer thin and crispy french fries.
Or perhaps you’re a fan of Hot Chip, with their delicious brand of alt electro-pop. Well, if you’re expecting a feast from their latest album be prepared to go to bed hungry. Why Make Sense? is more akin to a soggy, flaccid little wriggler you’d find at the bottom of your Maccy D’s at 3am – barely satisfying for those in need of a hearty meal.
And just to shoehorn even more of this tenuous food metaphor, there’s even a track called White Wine and Fried Chicken that’s about as bland as that meal sounds. It’s heavy, slow, lumbering and just not what we want from a Hot Chip album.
Huarache Lights at least makes a decent enough opening impression (also, incidentally, a Mexican dish), but it’s quickly surpassed by fun little number Love Is The Future, with its stuttering funk rhythms. It’s a style that continues later on Started Right (deep bass riffs and seemingly 8-bit synth effects) and Easy To Get (late night meandering, with a bubbling middle eight).
That funk influence sounds familiar, right? Well you’ve got Daft Punk (amongst others) to thank for the resurgence of funk and disco that has now seeped into the sound of Hot Chip two years behind everyone else. Dark Night is probably the most obvious instance of this, with space aged synths pairing with orchestral strings for something that matches well with the darker side of Random Access Memories.
The best moments of Why Make Sense? are when the band continue that move into darker territory. Cry For You begins with a menacing, sticky bass line that sounds like an insistent sci-fi warning, before blossoming into an expansive chorus where the song takes flight. Alexis Taylor’s vocals are also clearer and less processed here, the production harking back to their glory days of Ready For The Floor. Later there’s Need You Now, a straight-up dance track with hypnotic production and sampled vocals that’s a far cry from the light-hearted funk of earlier tracks. It’s an obvious sort of track to include, but the band do it very well.
Penultimate bore-fest of a track So Much Further To Go is a fair description of the album at large, before the album ends with the title track that’s quite the cacophony. Over their career, the clean minimalist style of their earlier work has gradually moved towards more richly coloured textures, as heard on their last album In Our Heads in 2012. And let’s not forget the nagging hooks that make up their biggest hits. Why Make Sense?, meanwhile, may as well be renamed Why Bother, lacking most of what has made the band’s music so enjoyable in the past. It seems that Hot Chip are now past their sell by date.
Why Make Sense? by Hot Chip can be ordered here.