A band that’s put out a couple records and developed a solid fan base can usually take one of two seemingly contradictory paths — consistency or musical evolution. Hot Chip’s One Life Stand shows how a band can accomplish both.
The electro-indie group has never failed to deliver clear and clean synth music, unavoidably catchy lyrical refrains and melodies and foot tapping rhythms that lead only to the dance floor. Hot Chip brings all these to the table once again with One Life Stand, but through a notably different approach that is still sure to please long time fans and earn some newer listeners.
One Life Stand teases us right away with a thrilling, teasing introduction to “Thieves in the Night,” which right away shows Hot Chip’s sharper focus on lyrics. The lead track has a great build and would fit perfectly in a 1980s John Hughes’ film. It is the rare six-minute song worthy of the time. The tracks that follow immediately reveal the approach taken to One Life Stand: adapting different musical elements to give each song its own unique and distinct feel. Much more than past Hot Chip albums, One Life Stand features a greater sense of diversity between tracks.
“Hand Me Down Your Love” strikes us with a western-ballad-like intro, resembling a femme fatale’s theme music. “I Feel Better” is a hyperactive, auto-tune-dependent track with an addictive melody. One of the more bizarre tracks, “Slush,” morphs the group’s sense of humor with its ear for vocal harmonization. Hot Chip does not completely migrated into new territory, however, as “Brothers,” and the album’s titular track are throwbacks that could fit into any of Hot Chip’s previous efforts.
Absent from One Life Stand is a distinct dance anthem like “Ready for the Floor,” which attracted so many fans to the band in the past. Hot Chip has placed a greater focus on expanding its instrumentation beyond synths and drum machines, incorporating strings and electric pianos, much as Phoenix’s did last year on the superb Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The result is equally successful: An album great as a whole, great in parts and is a perfect representation of Hot Chip’s talent.