Freakout / Release review | Hot Chip’s fantastic, 11-track triumph

Hot Chip love the dancefloor and it loves them, even as they explore darker emotions in their eighth album, Freakout / Release.

Hot Chip


“Hipsters with attitude. Electro-sound. Nice videos.” – Neil, Peep Show

“Cool electro, improvise live.” – Simon, Peep Show

They’re the nation’s favourite food and they’re warm, very warm. It’s Hot Chip. Although the excerpts above (from a famous scene in one of the last and tired series of Peep Show) wasn’t the first time I’d heard of Hot Chip, it was the second. The first was in Inbetweeners when Jay plays ‘Over and Over’ during his DJ set at the Christmas party.

I finally came round to them in a serious, adult way, when they released A Bath Full of Ecstasy in 2019 (which was excellent). The band defy correct categorisation in my mind because they’re so old. I assumed they surfaced properly during the easy and serene Metronomy, Foals, Alt-J, and Friendly Fires years, and that Jay was giving them a nice promotion to suburban 16- and 17-year-old Sixth Formers, right ahead of their big break.

But no, they’ve been around since 1995, from the LCD Soundsystem and Simian Mobile Disco era, and they have the experience and success to warrant that pedigree. This latest and eighth offering from the London five-piece, Freakout / Release, is great. So good, in fact, that I really hope they don’t improvise anything from it when I see them live, because it’s such a a solid sound throughout. I want studio sound emulation.

I don’t go into intense detail of each track in my positive reviews, but will say whether there are any rotten apples among the juicy Golden Deliciouses, but in this there aren’t, so let me point out the shiny ones. ‘Eleanor’ is just delightful, and at 5 minutes and 10 seconds feels like when the man in the chippy laughs and gives you more hot chips for free because you told him you reviewed a band called Hot Chip earlier in the day (I’m convinced this is going to happen in a few hours’ time).

I also appreciate the lyrics a lot, which evoke a kind of bucolic romance: ‘Don’t you know we’re not roving free / We’re just a part of ecology / And when the words are escaping me / I try to speak with economy… You’re like a river flowing / That will never stop (Eleanor!) / You’re like the toughest tree / That withstands the chop (Eleanor!)’ A paean to British Isles environmentalism threaded beautifully by a band comprising several members who read English at Cambridge.

‘Guilty’ is another standout and begins with a French woman speaking, to my staid Anglo-ear, with gaiety, which is always nice, before ascending into an 80s Eurobeat resurrection, something Hot Chip have proved themselves to be consistently brilliant at.

‘Out of My Depth’ summons memories of Pet Shop Boys optimism; ‘Broken’ summons memories of Pet Shop Boys pessimism. Neither fall foul of plagiarism, but are merely grand demonstrations of Hot Chip’s ability to nail themselves to the perch beside musical ilk of that sort.

So, four stars. It might have scraped five, and it still could do for you, should you make some memories listening to this record – that’s the only thing that can embolden and entrench its rating further. It’s difficult to argue that isn’t exactly what music is about. Play it abroad on your late summer holidays, on some delightful Mediterranean riviera with an ice cold glass of Pinot. Play it at home, sat in your cool garden in the evening, just as the sun leaves your plot and you turn talk radio off to head to the fridge for a guilty and expensive snaffle of something sweet. A four-star album that might be five – just add memories.

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