Album Review: Made In The Dark - Hot Chip

Whilst Hot Chip insist on making albums at the same rate that other bands pay their publicist to make MySpace posts (once every 16 months-ish) it is always a joy to get a peak at the next thing to come out of their cannon. Both 'Shake a Fist' and 'Ready For The Floor' have been doing the rounds for pure time now - in fact if you put a pin in a calendar at the exact mid-point between sophomore release, The Warning, and Made In The Dark you probably have the date when BlackPlastic first got jiggy to the bad-ass synths of 'Shake a Fist'. BlackPlastic knows, you're jealous and you want to be our friends. Add eleven more cuts and you have an album.

Made In The Dark features several tracks that the band have recorded live, all in one take, as if they needed to prove their slight-OCD tendencies, and as such things sound a little rawer. Opener 'Out At The Pictures' has been made to open festival sets. It sounds like that wonky pub-rock band you Dad tried (failed) to make on your Casio keyboard when you were seven and it makes BlackPlastic want to stomp its feet and down pints of beer.

The synths on 'Shake a Fist' still scare the crap out of people round BlackPlastic's way yet it all manages to make a little more sense within the flow of the album. 'Ready For The Floor' still sounds like fly girls having good times with cheap keyboards.

Made In The Dark stands out the most from The Warning in that it sees a return to the ballads of Hot Chip's debut, Coming On Strong. Whilst The Warning had slower, more contemplative moments none compared to emotional honesty of 'We're Looking For A Lot Of Love' here nor the frankly slightly scary darkness of 'Crap Kraft Dinner' on their debut. For the most part the slower tracks work fantastically well, breaking up the album and giving a little more depth. Not even BlackPlastic is sure where things are serious or ironic but that is likely to be half the point. Indeed, part of Hot Chip's charm is their refusal to be neither wholly serious nor a novelty band. 'Made In The Dark represents perhaps Hot Chip's finest effort at a ballad since 'Defeated By Technology' backed the 'Playboy' EP.

Both 'Wrestlers' and 'One Pure Thought' stand out as obvious choices for a future single. 'Wrestler' is a camp flirty love song that represents perhaps Hot Chip's most unadulterated pop moment yet. 'One Pure Thought' on the other hand sounds like Duran Duran getting lost inside Pulp's 'Sorted For Es and Whizz' on children's Saturday morning television. Scrazy, but honest fun ladies and gentlemen. The chorus owns everything it touches and as BlackPlastic has previously pointed out, like most good songs it sounds like three songs forced to live together amongst their will. BlackPlastic could listen to this for several days.

So there you have it, another Hot Chip album, another pop masterpiece. Is it as good as The Warning? Possibly. Is it good enough to soundtrack lots of TV programmes? Definitely. Will it improve your life? Of course.