There are five words slipped into the middle of ‘Night and Day’ – the hyper-infectious, propulsive track that comes halfway through Hot Chip’s fifth album – that in many ways sum up what’s In Our Heads. Somewhere between the fizzing percussion and the relentless and addictive bassline, a processed voice intones the line, “I like Zapp not Zappa”.
Although the Alexis Taylor penned words were written primarily as a reaction to ill-informed requests during the frontman’s DJ gigs, if viewed as a statement of intent for the record as a whole they speak volumes. They seem to say this record is playful yet unburdened by extraneous fuss or showiness. That this is a joyous record aimed squarely at the heart and at the heart of the dancefloor.
It’s an ideology that seems to subliminally seep through the rest of the tracks on In Our Heads. You can hear it on the opening track – ‘Motion Sickness’ – where the track seems to dizzily modulate one step ahead of the listener with every four bar loop and on ‘How Do You Do’, a celebration of the joy of life itself stretched over a backing track that sounds like a Chicago house record reinforced with titanium. It’s there throughout the seven-something minutes of ‘Flutes’ in the chopped up rhythmic chant that runs through the heart of it while the rhythm track crackles like electrical cables in heavy weather and it’s in the ocean deep melancholy of the gorgeous ‘Look At Where We Are’. It’s there in the utterly ecstatic wordless chorus of ‘Let Me Be Him’. And it’s there on the constantly evolving, Abbey Road-esque ballad ‘Now There Is Nothing’. In fact, it’s there right through the middle of In Our Heads, helping to forge something akin to the perfect synthesis of electronics and live instrumentation, a place where Alexis’ beautifully soulful vocals sit as perfectly on liquid R&B backing tracks as on songs that sound like Prince beaming back from the 31st century.