By Mike Berlin
Chances are, when you first hear nerd-house group Hot Chip’s new album, In Our Heads, you’ll be plastered, profusely sweating, and sporadically bathed in a strobe light. If not, you’ll want to be. With their fifth album, the British quintet is aiming for the arty club circuit that embraced earlier tracks like 2006’s mental, catchy “Over and Over” and the 2009 Grammy-nominated single, “Ready for the Floor.”
None of Hot Chip’s members are gay, but their music can be manifestly eyebrow raising and latently light in the loafers. “I think it’s good when people have the confidence to be unguarded or positive,” says Joe Goddard, who founded the group in 2000 with Alexis Taylor. In Our Heads, could read like a nod to the drug-fuelled ambience in which Hot Chip’s music has always thrived, but Taylor paints it more elegantly than that. “The quality of the music is quite dreamy,” he says. “When you make a record, you’re kind of inviting people into a world, your group’s imagination.”
Listening to the album from start to finish is a journey, from the sun-kissed, new-age desert dunes of a ’90s Pure Moods infomercial (“These Chains”) to the dungeon end of a warp pipe in Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., complete with comically sinister bleeps (“Night and Day”).
For the time being, Hot Chip is gearing up for the second half of 2012, which has them scoring the introductory music for the London Olympics table tennis competition and embarking on an international summer tour at some of the biggest venues they’ve ever headlined.
How are they prepping for the road ahead? “The main thing is learning how to play the songs,” says Goddard, noting that the recording process consists of pairing samples, beats, and instrumentations with an engineer in a piecemeal fashion. “I don’t mean that in a facetious way. We basically don’t know how to play them.”
Hot Chip's In Our Heads set to release June 12.