Hot Chip — ‘A Bathfull of Ecstasy’
THE GOOD: British electronic outfit Hot Chip returns with its seventh.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Ecstasy” marks a huge change within the band’s entire creative process, this being the first album allowing much input from outside producers, including during the songwriting process. While there were supposedly some bumps along the way, the guys eventually embraced the collaborations.
Is “Ecstasy” better for it? I’d say yes. Hot Chip is at the 15-year mark in its recording career, a crucial time when bands need to shake things up to avoid remaking the same record over and over again. “Ecstasy” ends up a tight affair that seemingly expands with every listen.
At first, tracks such as “Melody of Love” and “Echo” seem like textbook synth-pop. Drink them in a couple of times, however, and you pick up on subtle intricacies and nuances. Then you get bits such as “No God” that slowly build, merrily glide and carry us off. The entire affair is dizzyingly hypnotic.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Tycho — ‘Weather’
THE GOOD: Songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Scott Hansen (stage name Tycho) switches on for a dreamy fifth.
THE BAD: Eight songs in just under 30 minutes leaves you craving more.
THE NITTY GRITTY: For the first time, Hansen is collaborating with one vocalist throughout most of an entire album. Saint Sinner lends her soothing style to five tracks, making her the most distinct instrument on the collection. Songs such as “Pink and Blue” and “For How Long” work well as traditional synth-pop tunes, proving Hansen can write within more structured settings. And since his previous three records acted as a sort of trilogy, “Weather” feels like a new beginning. The musician’s work is anything but stagnant.
Overall, guitars take more of a backseat than usual, with “Weather” being the most “electronic” in this electronic artist’s collection (if that makes sense). At the same time, Sinner brings a human warmth to the proceedings. So an album that could sound distant and cold is the exact opposite.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Operators — ‘Radiant Dawn’
THE GOOD: Another Dan Boeckner project creates yet another fantastic album.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Releasing material with Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and now the second Operators record, Boeckner has been extremely prolific over the past decade and a half. You would think working at that pace would force the work to suffer, but that hasn’t been the case. The man’s music, while slightly different in various settings, has always been consistently good.
Operators is his most rhythmic and electronic outlet. When it cranks out an extended jam like this album’s “Faithless,” LCD Soundsystem comparisons are almost mandatory. More sensitive and melodic pieces such as “Come and See” reminds us of swirling Vince Clarke classics. “Dawn” uses both extremes to score a bleak, dystopian sci-fi (or is it?) outlook told through tight synth-pop songs.
Boeckner may have changed the backdrop, but old wounds still sting. What he hated about the world yesterday still frustrates him today. With Operators, he simply sets all this aggravation to better beats.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Mike Evans is the author of Sounds and is a super cool radio guy who doesn’t mess around when it comes to music. Contact: email@example.com