Hot Chip - The Warning

Here is my warning: Hot Chip will help you fall in love with your inner-xylophone. It's something you probably haven’t even realized is there, sort of like your love for Kelly Clarkson (I know it's not just me, people). But now that I've fully digested The Warning, I feel like xylophone-infatuation its something I'm going to exploit for at least the next month or so. Comprised of Alexis Taylor (vox, keyboard), Joe Goddard (vox, synthesizers), Owen Clarke (synthesizers, guitar), Felix Martin (drum machine and percussion), and Al Doyle (synthesizers, guitar), Hot Chip has put together a remarkably snappy and very danceable album their second time on the block. The record presents equal parts elation and contemplation in some very groovy, tightly-packaged songs.

The Warning rockets out of the gates with “Careful”, which comes at you from a number of different angles, but then settles into the groove with the beautiful "And I Was a Boy From School." On both of these tracks, as on the rest of The Warning, Felix Martin excels perfectly on percussion without being overpowering. They present a refreshing blend of traditional and new age drum machine sounds, something rhythmically akin to Dntel. What separates these songs from something on say, Dntel’s Life is Full of Possibilities however, is the mood they create: that of pure upbeat optimism.

Songs like "Over and Over" and in particular, "Just Like We Break Down" continue to keep me worked-up. Listen to either and you know that they're easy cuts to dance to. Yet, textured with some 80’s nostalgia-synth and keys, and seasoned with just enough DFA-like beats to get NYC heads talking (‘cause God knows that's all they ever do) these songs channel an all-night party where everyone piles out of the bathroom and onto the dancefloor at 3am to squeeze out every last drop of fun before hitting the streets. Though I’m forced to listen to these songs on my substandard iPod headphones, I imagine that putting either track on a top-of-the-line PA system will make the ladies' knees quiver.

Other songs on the album, particularly “Look After Me,” give a much more mellow glimpse to what the band is capable of. Here Alexis Taylor is really channeling Ben Gibbard, and it gives us a much-needed rest from the break-neck pace of the first half of the album. The song features a string section that is a true departure from anything we've yet heard... very soothing. I foresee this being a prime target for a remix. (Perhaps someone could send word to MadLib that "Look After Me" could greatly benefit from a little afro-centric love.)

In all, there is something unmistakably catchy about The Warning, an aggressive yet extremely satisfying second effort from the band. The album's attention to funk and groove will help place Hot Chip as a leader of the disco-punk or electro-punk bands, and yet will completely set them apart from anyone else in that sphere. The band expertly pieces together percussive sounds in a very intellectual way that is instantly enjoyable. They keep you coming back for more listens which yield something new every time. A perfect album for that up-and-coming DJ, the late-night-party-thrower, or that spend-all-Sunday-cleaning-the-apartment go-getter. Whatever your style, Hot Chip will get you moving, and that's more of a promise than it is a simple 'warning.'

--Karl Pawlewicz

Release Date: June 13, 2006 (US) May 22, 2006 (UK)

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