Tasty offbeat debut from bedroom-dwelling electro-funk fanatics
South London five-piece Hot Chip made their entrance earlier this year with an EP, Down With Prince, the neatly ambiguous title of which revealed both their puckish sense of humour and a weariness of the hip hop/R&B fraternity’s insistence that they’re hip to Mr Nelson’s trip. It set out their stall with lo-fi soul, minimal electro/glitch and decidedly idiosyncratic funk, all of which are present and correct in Coming On Strong.
Like their EP, the album was put together in the bedroom of one particularly tolerant Chip using synths/keyboards, programmed beats and whatever toy instruments were to hand. As recording methods go, this is nothing radical, but Hot Chip’s (sample-free) tunes are refreshingly resistant to DIY typecasting. Beats programmer/vocalist Joe Goddard would undoubtedly ‘fess up to a fondness for The Beastie Boys, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, De La Soul and cLOUDEAD, vocalist/keyboard player Alexis Taylor for Four Tet, Smog, Bobby Womack, Palace and?yes?Prince, but Hot Chip range far wider (and less obviously) than that. Thus, “Keep Fallin'” is a daringly minimal, highly personal homage to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, the darkly groovy “Playboy” recalls Armand Van Helden, “Bad Luck” and “Shining Escalade” dabble in pastoral Krautrock, while the lovely, lilting “Crap Kraft Dinner” suggests Arab Strap given a deep house makeover, but still comes up trumps.
A mordant humour is central to Coming On Strong, much of it expressed in the soft, reedy tones of Taylor, who detonates sly reality bombs in lines like: “All the people I love are drunk”, “I haven’t got the time for a jerk-off loser” (both from “Crap Kraft Dinner”) and?most memorably?”Fuck you, you fucking fuck”, as murmured in deceptively sweet lament “Bad Luck”.
Restlessly inventive, Hot Chip also manage what many bedroom eclectics don’t: crafting a genuinely organic, proper album, and the relaxed enthusiasm that drives this debut is absurdly infectious. Nice and (gr)easy does, apparently, do it.