Friday, July 28, 2006

Hot Chip/The Warning/Rating:8.1

"The Warning is propulsion and power and punctuation rolled up into one, abandoning a lot of the graceful, delicate melodies of the debut for songs with more wallop. It was a necessary move-- a step forward-- and the results are mostly golden."

When you work retail the content of the store's cd changer is no small matter. At times it is your final defense in the lines of war with a brainless mob of American Shop-a-holic mediocrity trained somehow subliminally from birth to expect far too much and demand far more from a mere daytime/nighttime hawker of such and such a product. It's a wearying task of emotional acrobatics to pull a smile and a pleasant greeting out of your embittered shell of an existence for every mind vacuum with a mullet that makes that front door go ding just when you have finally recovered from the last stream of questions issued from the larger hole in the head of another PFC in the army of seekers with no intention to buy. In retail land the crashing wave of attack is unending and the war is never won. Morale gets low. The troops grow despondent and ineffectual. "On les aura!" starts to sound more like "screw this job, I can't wait to get home and cook up some candy in my meth lab, err.. damn I've already signed my name for one package of Sudafed this week..." It's low times like this that the parrumpapump of the little tin drummer boy squashed into the black box marked Sony becomes the necessary call to arms, the way to triumph, girding up the will and boosting the old esprit de corps where it was waning so very thin.
(True, unless of course you work corporate retail in which case you will certainly learn to hate music on the whole, having spent months of your life hearing the same volume of Verve Remixed with that endlessly plonking version of "Sinner Man" and whatever drippy Coldplay gem has oozed it's way into the hearts and minds of America via a Volkswagen commercial. Yeah in that case, you're pretty much a strip mall POW. Our hearts and prayers are with you. Learn to like the taste of rat and the thrill of Russian Roulette).
Well it was at that very moment of desperation several weeks ago that it came to my ears like an artillery barrage from allied forces. Emanating from the four stereoed corners of the store came sweetly the battle cry: "Hot Chip will break your legs, Snap off your head."
Yes, customer, yes I will do that. If only in my silent thoughts.
I'm not sure how this disc ended up in the work player but thankful, indeed, I was. I must admit that music associated with the work environment is not always met with instant approval and usually I will summarily reject new material with no further reasoning simply because it came to me while working. Hot Chip's The Warning, however, I could not discard according to this rule, no matter how hard I tried. The beats are too infectious, the silly percussive flourishes too novel, and the vocals just too darned comfy not to warrant at least a few selections entering the sanctum ipodium of the Top 25 Most Played playlist. The vast majority of the songs on this album sound like a group of underappreciated witty geeks with great record collections getting together and having some underappreciated witty geeks with great record collection fun with their guitars, pots, pans, whirly-gigs and um, microkorgs. According to the live videos I've peeked on YouTube, this isn't far from reality. It's amusing if somewhat quirky pop that, despite its numerous points of reference, actually sounds fresh and somewhat intelligent in a swelling market of wannabe tongue-in-cheeky retread dance shite that hasn't ceased to plague since Electric Six invited us all to the gay bar to start a fire or something. Haters.

Moment of Clarity: So yeah, I'm pretty much agreeing with the 'forkers here. The record is good and a well played departure from previous material. There are a few missteps but nothing quite worthy of serious admonition... wait no, the beat on "Careful" is unforgivably heinous and after the first listening finds itself permanently in the "ugh, I hate having to skip track one" club... but, yeah, otherwise good. As for numerical reviewing lets stick with a solid figure 8, shall we.