"Happiness is what we all want" was the opening, and arguably defining, sentiment of Hot Chip
's 2010 masterstroke One Life Stand
. A more coherent and consistent collection of songs than any of their past records, it consolidated the band's strengths while conveying a palpable sense of desire for something bigger, better. Whether it was due to the warm accolades that record received, the switch to the Domino Records label, or a sense of outside fulfillment from the various side projects that the members pursued in the subsequent two years, they seem to have found that lasting happiness. And they're paying it forward big time on In Our Heads
More celebratory in tone and kinetic in rhythm than its predecessor, this album revives the mischievous energy of 2008's Made in the Dark
while retaining the subtle nuance and maturity of Stand
. Part of its success may be that the group no longer tries to cram all of their ideas into three minute templates. They're more content to let their grooves ride and stretch out into lengths that were previously reserved for their remixes. This mix of patience and propulsion makes the songs simultaneously feel more relaxed and more tense than before. Album centerpiece "Flutes" is perhaps the best example of this, with what sounds like a playground chant giving way to a robotic refrain that grows and repeats almost menacingly from within as raindrop synths play cat and mouse with the beat. It almost plays like their previous hit "Over and Over" mashed up with The Knife
's "Silent Shout."
Lead single "Night and Day" plays a similar game in a shorter run time, with Alexis Taylor
evoking Scissor Sisters
' Jake Shears
in the irresistible chorus. Floor-filling workouts like these continue to rub elbows with more earnest disco balladry like closer "Always Been Your Love," a natural extension of One Life Stand
-out "Alley Cats" which features Gang Gang Dance
's Lizzi Bougatsos
in a sweetly sexy duet. Less attentive listeners may take this album for granted as more of the same from the band. In a way, they've become dance music's equivalent to Spoon
or Yo La Tengo
(the latter remains one of the group's self-professed influences). They've built a steady, satisfying catalog of music that continues to evolve and impress, but in a quieter, more reserved fashion. There's no longer a need to present a "great leap forward." They're already performing at their peak.
Catch Hot Chip live at The Electric Factory
on July 21st.