The Warning

Studio Album by released in 2006
The Warning's tracklist:
Careful
And I Was a Boy From School
Colours
Over and Over
(Just Like We) Breakdown
Tchaparian
Look After Me
The Warning
Arrest Yourself
So Glad to See You
No Fit State
Won't Wash

The Warning review

Strange mix of hip-hop, funk and indie pop

Hailing from London, Hot Chip entered the picture with the release of their first EP Mexico in 2000. The voices of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard are a fine study in contrast. Taylor offers dreamy, effortless falsettos that cut to the heart of the beauty of performers like Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake. Meanwhile, Goddard offers a tone that sounds a bit more world weary and at times almost gruff in comparison to Taylor, calling to mind Damon Albarn's cool monotone tendencies. The ranks of Hot Chip's lineup swell with a revolving cast for live performances, but Goddard and Taylor remain the group's creative core. The band makes quirky, ideas-packed vocal electronica perpetually veering between moments of bliss, humor, and sheer sonic mentalism. The Warning is the second full-length album from Hot Chip. Continuing with the sound that graced their 2005 debut Coming On Strong the boys manage to create a strange mix of hip-hop, funk and indie pop, taking influence from many genres and artists including Prince, Public Enemy, Brian Wilson and The Neptunes. The Warning is propulsion and power and punctuation rolled up into one, abandoning a lot of the graceful, delicate melodies of the debut for songs with more wallop. It was a necessary move – a step forward – and the results are mostly golden.

Hot Chip focuses more on song arrangements and structure

Hot Chip's creative maturity is immediately evident in the energetic opening. Careful, which is laced with punchy, crisp hi hats and snare drums, then gives way to the dramatic And I Was a Boy from School. They've gone beyond the quirky electro-pop into something much more focused and pop friendly (especially with the band's tight vocal harmonies). The title track has production that wouldn't be out of place on I Am Robot and Proud's last few records, or Postal Service outtakes. But like these artists, Hot Chip focuses more on song arrangements and structure rather than technology and programming showmanship. Of course, a lot of their pert turns of phrases are still around, as are the molten ballads (Colours) but they're usually eclipsed by the zooming, gliding synths, keyboards, and drum machines that push things forward. The unsteady, maniacally fun Over and Over is the early single that got most excited for their turn to the dancefloor. Built on the best kind of chant (one you can remember), a skulking guitar, and handclaps, the song is a standout among spastic jams like the churning Human League-esque No Fit State or crystalline (Just Like We) Breakdown. There are also sweet moments like Look After Me, an R&B-tinged plea to an ex-lover, that sees these clever-clever white boys succeed in getting sentimental without resorting to irony.

There's something of New Order in Hot Chip

Inhabiting the wild savannah in the rock-dance hinterland, where the likes of DFA (who have signed them to their label Stateside) imperiously roam, Hot Chip are Prince-adoring, R&B-loving, two-step worshipping electro-funkers with a cheeky attitude who inject you with a special potion. A potion to make you dance, think and have a little chuckle at the same time. Part of Hot Chip’s appeal has been, and certainly continues to be, their lyrics, which combine platitudes about love with some alarmingly violent images. There is more of this on The Warning. Their images can draw a smile, or cause you to stop in your tracks. But it’s when Hot Chip drops the irony and lets the listener into its empty world that the songs hit hardest. They have pulled off the trick of not taking things too seriously, but yet still produce some seriously good music. The Warning shows us a Hot Chip both familiar and unexpectedly progressive. If you like your dance music intelligent but still accessible, with soulful harmonies and cheeky lyrics that surprise you with moments of deep feeling, this record comes highly recommended. It's far too early to say whether they will reach the same lofty heights, but there's something of New Order in Hot Chip. There's the same mix of art school-meets-working man demeanor, an unabashed acknowledgement of the debt popular music owes to clubland and a wry lyrical conceit.

(09.06.2006)
Rate review4.50
Total votes - 6


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