Hot Chip's third album Made in the Dark
could have easily been titled after its dance floor-friendly single "Ready for the Floor." Like an awkward teen that has finally outgrown puberty and become comfortable with his or her body, the quintet has come into its own on its latest record by finding a comfortable balance of physicality and wit. Though Made in the Dark
closely resembles its predecessor by pairing ecstatic club-bangers ("Shake a Fist" and the aforementioned single) with frankly earnest numbers ("We're Looking For a Lot of Love" and "In the Privacy of Our Love"), this album stands out because of its stadium-worthy aspirations.
Hot Chip's rapid maturation can be traced from the timid soul pop of its 2005 debut Coming on Strong
to the decidedly assertive The Warning
in 2006. Made in the Dark
takes the next logical step forward by re-contextualizing the music for a larger space. With an emphasis on maximum impact with minimal parts, the record plays best on a large system in an open space.
"Out at the Pictures" opens the record in dramatic fashion with an extended keyboard line straight out of every rock epic (from Pink Floyd to Eno ) that slowly finds its legs and tempo before the drums break out and send the song hurtling. The subsequent cluster of the rattling "Shake a Fist" and pogo-ing "Ready for the Floor" nearly unhinges the record, but in fact allows the remainder of the album to cruise at a comfortable speed. The band wisely alternates its paisley penchant for the cerebral and the bounce: "Touch Too Much" and "One Pure Thought" combine the group's knack for upbeat rock hooks and faculty for electronic music arrangement, while leaving time for the cheeky "Wrestlers" and the touching title track. By selectively using themes and tones, the band creates enough movement and narrative to replicate the its noted live performances.
That said, Made in the Dark
as double entendre best describes the record. It suggests the solace of headphone whispers and the privacy of the independent listening experience. But the darkness also connotes the thousands of midnight marauders partying together in a dark club until the first morning light. Such flexibility of meaning encapsulates the record's message and the band's temperament: take me home and take me out.