Two years after releasing their breakthrough disc Made in the Dark, British electro-pop group Hot Chip are set to return with One Life Stand, an 11-track set of smart, ass-shaking dance numbers that's one of the year's most anticipated indie records. (The disc hits stores on February 9th.)
Over the course of four albums, Hot Chip have proven themselves to be the sensitive, heart-on-sleeve lads of the dance floor, mixing confessional lyrics with bracing beats and textured, Yaz-style synth hooks. "There's a lot of bad dance music that sounds soulless and horrible," says frontman Alexis Taylor. "I think people forget that there can be records that have great warmth with house rhythms. For us, the production of our songs is important but at the same time, we want there to be honesty and an emotional content." That strategy of making brainy dance-pop has worked well for the band: Made in the Dark has sold almost 80,000 copies and the album's single "Ready for the Floor" scored them a Grammy nod for Best Dance Recording.
Hot Chip dig even deeper on One Life Stand. Many of the tunes on the album were inspired by the birth of Taylor's daughter, Prudence. In fact, Taylor carved out most of the melodies while hanging out with his newborn at home. "I would play piano while holding her with the other hand," he says. "That was such a nice feeling."
After he came up with some melodies, Taylor and the band holed up in a studio in London's East End in March and April of last year to record. Highlights include lead track "Thieves in the Night" — powered by percolating synths, pummeling beats and Taylor's airy falsetto — and the gorgeous "Take It In," which is easily one of the finest tracks the group has crafted yet.
One Life Stand marks the second time the group has worked collaboratively to record, and Taylor thinks the effect has helped them move away from getting branded as an electronic band to just a band. "We make whatever we feel like making," he says. "Sometimes we'll try R&B, sometimes we're influenced by something more modern, like Kraftwerk. When you think of bands like the Beatles or Prince, no one is concerned whether one song is different from the next song, whether it's garage rock or 'Eleanor Rigby.' They're accepted for making their own music and I think we're trying to do something similar."
Hot Chip have also earned a reputation as master remixers — Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," Gorillaz's "Kids With Guns" — so expect plenty of underground DJs to return the favor with tracks from One Night Stand. Already in the bag are remixes by U.K.'s Drums of Death and Detroit-based DJ Carl Craig. Taylor also says one track from the record with new vocals from a male singer, yet he declines to specify who that is. "I'd rather wait until it's all finished," he says. "But I will say that he is one of my favorite singers."