I don’t review albums very often, because to be quite frank I read a heck of a lot more than I listen to music, and most of the time I just listen to my safe old music collection instead of buying something new. However, fate — or perhaps circumstance — brings to my hands now and then a new selection of music that I am bursting to speak about. Hot Chip’s latest is a prime example.
But first, a little disclaimer: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I know nothing about music. I may use the wrong technical terms and whatnot. That doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion!
One Life Stand is one of those albums that is great the first time you listen to it, awesome the second time, and heart-breakingly good thereafter. The pun in the title is an apt description: it starts off as a fun, fling-y sexy dance album but evolves into something more meaningful. Many of the songs themselves show these two sides, starting off light and then giving way to an experimental, moving chorus.
Opening track Thieves In The Night starts of slow but builds, builds, builds into an uplifting catchy pop-dance tune. This segues nicely into Hand Me Down Your Love, which has the classic simple Hot Chip beat, although I have to admit the synthesized cartoon-like refrain made me giggle a little. The chorus is what really makes the song for me though — it adds depth to an otherwise simple tune.
The rhythm really kicks off next with I Feel Better, which must be the second single. It has elements of Euro Trash to it that elevate it to the next level of awesomeness. This is the first tune that had me properly dancing in place as I was cooking (and nearly making me burn my dinner). I’m not convinced by the initial auto-tuned vocals, but the chorus is superb, especially the following section:
Nothing is wasted
And life is worth living
Heaven is nowhere
Just look to the stars
There is a daylight
It’s yours for embracing
Everything is nothing
And nothing is ours
Now the title track One Life Stand is one of my favourites. It has that dirty grungy beat that begs to be danced to, a meaningful play on words, and a rather cheeky tone. It follows the same pattern as the other songs in that it has a uplifting chorus, but unlike in the other songs, the chorus wasn’t my favourite part; it was too bright and happy. The rest of the song has a catchy darkness to it that I like better.
Brothers has a much laid-back sound, harmonious vocals, really optimistic, but what truly winds everything down is the following song, Slush, a slow and nostalgic love song. Slush opens a little strangely — I’m not sure about the odd vocals — but it quickly turns into a sweet song. It’s also the longest track on the album (6:29), but I think the best part of the song is the last two minutes, which feature more melancholic singing.
Another of my favourites on the album is Alley Cats — I love the keyboards, how the song keeps evolving, everything, really. It’s beautiful. It’s Hot Chip danciness, but gentle and soft.
So it comes as a shock when We Have Love starts playing, because it’s the entire opposite of Alley Cats; it’s a house-y synthesized aggressive dance track. It’s also when I started dancing again, but not for long because follow up Keep Quiet (as the title would lead you to expect) is a song that has almost whisper-quiet vocals, a dreamlike song.
The album finishes with Take It In, which returns to that two-sided sound of edgy, dark dance verses and an uplifting chorus, but I have to say it’s not one of my favourites — it’s a little too quirky at times, perhaps overproduced, and the ending (after the promising dark beginning) is overly sentimental.
Overall, this album is really a one life stand: it has everything you could possibly want, from the dirty dance-y tunes to the slow, dreamlike ballads, love and lust rolled into one.
Intrigued? Listen to it for free.