Full Nelson, Half Nelson, Willie Nelson

On the warm, wobbly, witty charms of Hot Chip

Hot Chip's "Ready for the Floor" is an indie dance track you could imagine a Republican liking, all catchy, lustrous synth-bounce topped with Alexis Taylor's sweet, smooth croon. In the video, the slight, bespectacled frontman stumbles around like a punch-drunk Elvis Costello, clad in a gray suit in some shots and costumed as the Joker in others. Meanwhile, the rest of the band toss paint at one other and ride a brightly colored spinning wheel. The whole clip evokes Terry Gilliam directing a Sprite commercial—it's one of the best things on YouTube right now. And between the video and the song, you get all four of Hot Chip's defining attributes: eccentricity, warmth, tunefulness, and exuberant danceability.

Made in the Dark, the London quintet's third album, keeps the friendliness and ramshackle boogie on blast while working in plenty of ideas: Bookended stylistically by the dark, big-beat banger "Out at the Pictures" and the codeine-tempo'd, rather gorgeous title track, the album tosses in thrift-store synths and ice-pick guitars, plus bits of wobbly funk and buttery white soul. There are hooks, too, including witticisms like "I'm only going to heaven if it feels like hell." A song full of wrestling terminology? Yes, there's a song full of wrestling terminology.

There's also a bit too much fucking around and a couple of soggy slow songs. But it all holds together pretty well—better even than 2006's The Warning, a good record that I initially dismissed as too cute, too soft. After glomming onto "Over and Over," a stumbling, addictive disco rave-up that NME eventually named Song of the Year, I changed my mind, however: Turns out that besides being dance-floor eccentrics, Hot Chip were already skilled songwriters and trackmakers. No wonder both Kylie Minogue and Scritti Politti's Green Gartside both want to work with them now.

Still, The Warning peaked at no. 34 in the U.K. and did nothing over here. Made in the Dark seems poised to do roughly the same, although it's possible that a coalition of clubgoers and indie kids will push Hot Chip to, say, Bloc Party's level. Whatever the case, be glad that Hot Chip exist: They're very much of their time—friendly indie kids from the Go! Team to Hot Hot Heat are cheerily dabbling in dance music nowadays—and much better than most of those peers. And damned if they don't want to be loved.

 
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