Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hot Chip - "I Feel Better" (video)

I go back and forth on Hot Chip. They have some fantastic ideas for beats, melodies and sounds, but they aren't always able to distill those ideas into songs effectively enough to do them full justice. Musically, they jump around a lot, sometimes changing things up too frequently to settle into a groove, which can be frustrating when a song initially teases you as danceable. And the vocals and lyrics can drift beyond cheesy into grating. Sometimes they strike me as genius, and sometimes I feel like they're just a whiny indie rock band dressed up like a dance act. But perhaps in those times I'm just foolishly and unfairly wishing they were something that they're not. Maybe I should just find a remix when that's what I'm looking for.

I'm still getting acquainted with their new release, One Life Stand, but they've clearly exercised some extra focus and restraint, and the result is a more consistent and satisfying album. I find this to be most noticeable on mellower tracks like "Alley Cats" and "Keep Quiet," which manage to establish a groove and fully develop it, making use of natural propulsion rather than jarring twists and turns. The use of live drums on some of the tracks helps make them more cohesive as well, and they've preserved their lyrical identity while seriously cutting back on the wholesale ridiculous.

They've just released the video for their latest single, "I Feel Better," and it's an interesting one. While they didn't direct the video themselves, it's actually representative of my general issue with some of their work – I enjoy the initial premise, but then they compulsively shift direction, layering in more ideas and twists that are progressively less successful. Check it out below, along with some dates for their upcoming US tour.

April 16 / Fox Theater / Oakland, CA
April 17 / Coachella / Indio, CA
April 19 / Riviera / Chicago, IL
April 22 / Terminal 5 / New York, NY
April 23 / Terminal 5 / New York, NY
April 24 / 9:30 Club / Washington, D.C.
April 25 / Theatre of the Living Arts / Philadelphia, PA

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