What initially made Prince compelling was his knack for control in a climate of danger. London quartet Hot Chip’s arty whiteboy electropop/soul approximation is an inversion, gently letting it rip in a Nerf biosphere. The Warning‘s cover displays a series of pleasantly colored geometric shapes with rectangular planks wedged in them—children’s toys. Hall & Oates is naked rugby next to the celebration of “Colors”; mental-hospital walls are often teal because it makes people feel safe. Hot Chip feel safe. And a little creepy.
The hairiest song here is “Over and Over”—though it vaguely compares a person having sex to “a monkey with a miniature cymbal,” at least it acknowledges sex. Plus, it has a distorted bassline. Hot Chip might not pony up their wild desires in front of the girls, but they’ll drop a couple tears on the subway ride home and find inspiration elsewhere, while the city lets loose without them.