Saturday, February 23, 2008

Album Review: Hot Chip - Made in the Dark (3/5)

When will I learn? After being disappointed by albums from The Postal Service, Junior Boys, Mylo, Tiga and LCD Soundsystem, I vowed to never again buy a nerdy/indie electronic album. Sure the beats, beeps and bleeps may be cool, but I’ve found this type of music to be too devoid of melody, hooks and decent singing to impress me. So why then did I repeat this mistake with Hot Chip’s Made in the Dark?

Chock it up to my sense that I should like this music, even if I don’t, and the fact that Made in the Dark, the band’s 3rd album, is getting pretty decent reviews. After previewing the album on-line I thought it sounded good—and the first few tracks are really great. But while it's probably the best of the aforementioned bunch, ultimately it’s just not clicking with me.

The beginning is promising. “Out at the Pictures” starts quietly, building to an upbeat new wave reminiscent of mid to late ‘80s Depeche Mode, blending synths and electric guitar with ease. “Shake a Fist” is similarly upbeat ‘80s-styled dance music, with hard, fuzzy synths and an intermission break where the lead singer describes a game he made up, called “sounds of the studio.” “Ready for the Floor,” the album’s first single, is a real standout track, showing that this style of music can exude warmth and melody when it chooses to.

After that, the pickings are slim. “One Pure Thought” isn’t bad, an interesting mix of synths and beats. And “Don’t Dance,” although not very interesting for the first half, picks up in the middle.

A lot of the songs on here though are ballads, and the lead singer, whose falsetto reminds me of Boy George, doesn’t have the voice to pull them off. Against the cool upbeat tracks that open the album, tracks like “We’re Looking for a Lot of Love,” “Made in the Dark,” and “In the Privacy of Our Love” come off as, well, boring. And the other upbeat ones like “Bendable Poseable” and “Wrestlers” are just too repetitive.

Best: Ready for the Floor, Out at the Pictures, Shake a Fist

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