ALBUM REVIEW: Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Released: 21.06.19






Image by Ronald Dick

Let it be known: this album has no right to be as utterly divine as it is. Hot Chip could’ve settled for the same dull path that appears so fruitful to some of their ‘peers’. Just gander at the gig listings of your local ultra-corporate-£8-a-pint-venue, count the amount of “15th Anniversary Full Album Tour” shows and try not to be sick. There’s a reason why you won’t find Hot Chip lowering their standards so drastically, even on the eve of their 20th anniversary, and A Bath Full of Ecstasy is a glorious reminder of why: this is their masterpiece.

After the dark introspection of 2015’s Why Make Sense?, ABFOE finds the group reaching for more optimistic climes. That record’s title track, which questioned the point of “[making] sense when the world refuses to?”, is a whole world away from the euphoric light that is in abundance here; the record is awash with optimism, glory and hypnotic grooves, and is their most cohesive statement by far. Whilst the genre-skewering delight they’re adored for is still firmly on offer, the immaculate sequencing of the record creates a sense of flow that goes against the erratic shifts of previous efforts.

ABFOE embraces change in a myriad of ways. It marks the first time the group have welcomed in outside producers to the creative process from the offset, and it’s clear that Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard’s extensive solo efforts in the wake of WMS? have revitalised their approaches to songwriting, with them both writing songs that are far more direct, but still retain their characteristic abstract delight. They consider the record to be “a celebration of joy”, which still acknowledges “the struggle it can take to get to that point of happiness”, and it thoroughly hits the mark here. The celebrations come first, in the wild abandon of Taylor’s Spell and Echo, and then divert to the ‘struggle’ with the darker-tinges of lead single Hungry Child, deep-cut Clear Blue Skies, and the erratic brilliance of closer No God. It’s a record which brilliantly reflects the bizarre and overwhelming nature of existence itself, without ever being over-wrought or heavy-handed. It embraces euphoria and also the graft it can take to achieve it, and is a stark reminder of how bloody lucky we are to still have these lads about.


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