Review: Hot Chip’s “Why Make Sense?”

Hot Chip are back, having never really left after fifteen years of playing together, with their sixth album, Why Make Sense? Full of the muted groove and understated pop that is both immediately recognisable and instantly distinctive, Hot Chip is as always uniform in sound and iconoclastic in scope. In the world of electronic, Hot Chip are singular and unflinching, sophisticated groove in a sea of throb and punch.  Bringing their live show collaborators onto the recording has added some easily transferable oomph to what Felix Martin has described as their “best album yet.” Why Make Sense? is a good time album, a soundtrack to warped city visions and moody dancefloors, and fans of Hot Chip el classico will be well satiated.

Clever kids Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard first got together in the year 2000, confusing the indie and electronic worlds with a blend of both that created instant buzz.  The five-piece kept pumping out their particular brand of complexity disguised as minimalism, remaining one of the most reliable dance floor fillers for DJs worldwide and a consistently delivering fan favourite. In an interview this month, Taylor stated Why Make Sense? came from his “absurd approach to life…the lyrics are free to abandon the need to make logical sense or have a narrative or one fixed subject matter… We took that title because we felt like that’s the attitude of Hot Chip. We don’t need to conform to things that people expect of us, we’ve spent long enough with people being confused – why stop now? People always ask why and that’s the hardest question to answer in music.”

Album opener Huarache Lights is named after retro-resurgence sneakers, and on first listen the revival theme is clear. With a simple drum beat opening a la 2006 hit Over and Over, Huarache Lights builds into a deep pulse, with catch cry falsettos evening the frequencies and smoothing the five minute track out into a growing, incessant ear worm. This is what we’ve been missing, the clear cut mechanical machinations of a group of electronic perfectionists. Love is the Future is much funkier, an invitation to a party you want to be at. Taylor and Goddard still like to spike the punch, with De La Soul’s Posdnuos dropping a verse just to confuse the shit out of you and remind you that Hot Chip were teenagers of the nineties. Likewise, Started Right is at first surely some kind of joke with a super cheesy midi-inspired keyboard melody that is, nonetheless, infectious and spreads into something you can’t really help but bop to.

The whole album is jittery and buzzing, even the ballad White Wine and Fried Chicken a dampened slow dance that refuses to tail off when you expect it to. As discussed in our interview, it’s the mix of emotional connection with synth magic that set Hot Chip apart from the rest of the electro-pop dance crowd. This album is no different, and while there will be few surprises for fans that already know the Hot Chip sound it is still that solid consistency and that emotional connection that will continue to keep Hot Chip at the top of the electronic food chain.