Album Review: Hot Chip - In Our Heads

by Mac Wilson

Album Art for In Our Heads by Hot Chip
Album Art for In Our Heads by Hot Chip (Album Art)

If you think back to the early days of Facebook, you'll remember the "Looking For" option, in which you're supposed to note what you're searching for by being on Facebook. Being that Facebook was designed by (and originally, exclusively for) college students, this setting became pivotal for a generation of young people looking for love and/or sex. The options were "Friendship," "Dating," "A Relationship," "Random play," and "Whatever I can get." This became almost as important as the "Relationship Status" field, as you could essentially announce your availability (or lack thereof) in a relatively passive-aggressive way. The "Looking For" field was its own code, advertising one's intentions without overtly saying so.

While most contemporary dance music treads the territory of "Random play" and the even more nebulous "Whatever I can get" (which was a terrifying option that I never once toggled, even jokingly), Hot Chip typically seem like the guy who coyly puts up "Friendship/Dating/A Relationship," even though he's earnestly searching for the third option, with perhaps an unspoken threat of random play tossed into the mix. Hot Chip have always handled their topics with simultaneous doses of sincerity and self-deprecation, never afraid to get silly, all while keeping their eyes on the prize: A Relationship. Their new record, In Our Heads, is a glowing, shimmering piece that exudes positivity, while also cohering as a complete work.

Lead single "Night and Day" is probably the raunchiest song on the record, with assorted grunts, falsettos and the "one thing that [one] can do in the middle of the night" to deal with sexual longing. Even as Alexis Taylor sings about "be[ing] inside" his partner, he helpfully adds that this would bring him to the center of their life. At no point do things feel like anything more than a PG-rated vision of dancefloor hedonism, which is still plenty of fun in its own right.

In Our Heads is a thrillingly consistent album, veering from high-BPM stompers to some of their most touching ballads to date. Opening salvo "Motion Sickness" lives up to its title, sounding every bit as vast and gaudy as a cruise to Ibiza. Tracks like "Don't Deny Your Heart" capitalize on the band's longtime strength in constructing compositions that display drastic tonal shifts from verse to pre-chorus to chorus. Whereas other Hot Chip albums admittedly have clearly-recognizable doldrums, In Our Heads maintains the listener's attention without missing a beat, all leading up to the striking epic "Let Me Be Him," which has deservedly drawn acclaim from all circles as one of the band's most gorgeous compositions. It serves as an anthem of sorts, revolving around the central motif of romantic commitment, slowly dissolving into atmospheric guitars and nature noises. "Let Me Be Him" is the strongest evidence yet that the band is more than capable of not limiting themselves to dance and electronic, and creating an even more expansive vision of pop prettiness.

In those early years of Facebook, if the fates blessed you with a relationship, the first thing you did after changing your status (and waiting aeons for your partner to confirm) was to remove everything except "Friendship" (because if you didn't want friendship, you were probably wasting your time by joining Facebook in the first place). Hot Chip seem sincerely invested in making a long-lasting interpersonal connection with their audience, whether romantic or platonic. The band has impressively established themselves over the last decade as one of the most consistent acts in modern pop music, so even if you don't wind up in "A Relationship" with them, they will still be your friends for life.

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