London collective Hot Chip have proven their consistent presence in synth-pop for nearly two decades. Yet somehow they swerved while being stuck in a furrow. Freakout / Liberation is Hot Chip’s eighth LP and their catchy, whimsical material has spanned several acclaimed albums. It’s also been invigorated by the band’s experimental streak, spanning various live collaborations (most recently their Hot Congotronics set with DRC supergroup Kasai Allstars) and multi-flavored offshoots, be it solo work more folk from singer Alexis Taylor or club culture appearances from Joe Goddard.
Freakout / Liberation a Hot Chip always ready for the ground, while regularly ready to dive into darker emotions. “Down” opens the album, a splendidly loose-limbed boogie, based on a snippet of the late ’70s Chicago soul-funk band’s “More Than Enough,” before bouncing into the summer electronica of the first. single “Eleanor”. On this final track, Taylor’s plaintive vocals are full of fun and eerie details, including a meeting between a professional wrestler and a literary gift (“You’re like Andre The Giant on the way to school / Beckett made him do one lap before there was carpooling”).
Hot Chip never seems to take himself too seriously, but here he confronts rawer feelings with genuine compassion. “Broken” has a frank vulnerability (Taylor reflects: “If I can find a language to help me / Then maybe you can still support me”) while “Out of My Depth” is confessional. They recorded this album in the intimate territory of their own Relax & Enjoy studio (built by band member Al Doyle) but are also in great company throughout. Hip Belgian duo Soulwax lend pleasantly pungent co-production and rock riffs to the title track’s vocoder rumble; British electronic DJ/artist Lou Hayter (formerly of New Young Pony Club) adds cool and funny vocals to ‘Hard to Be Funky’; and Toronto rapper Cadence Weapon delivers an eloquent hip hop flow over the melancholy electro-soul tune “The Evil That Men Do.”
Freakout / Liberation effectively alternates between pathos and power moves. His catchy track list should also translate into the impulsive energy of their gigs (their upcoming tour includes a four-night residency at London’s Brixton Academy). It’s an ode to the loneliness of the late-night disco dancer and the unifying potential of beats, bass lines and rhymes.
‘Freakout / Liberation‘ is published by Domino