When Zane Lowe revealed ‘Dark & Stormy’ to the world on his Radio 1 show the other night, a slightly bemused Joe Goddard introduced himself with the news that Russians had been dancing to his music.
And whether it’s Goddard’s own dabblings à la ‘Gabriel’, his 2 Bears output (‘Bearhug’ and that Wiley remix in particular) or Hot Chip, mainstream attention has always centred around his music’s eminently danceable nature. So the gentle, twinkly opening of ‘Dark & Stormy’ coming straight out of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ is a bit of a curveball. But even a casual glance at ‘Over and Over’ will remind you that this is nothing new. Likewise the bouncy ‘Autobahn’ style synth, matched by ethereal strings and Alexis Taylor’s perennially alto tones. So far, so Hot Chip.
As the song progresses though, it takes us down a road that is actually quite reminiscent of Metronomy’s ‘English Riviera’ singles, both musically and lyrically. Consequently, while “When you’re feeling dark and stormy, I will sing a song for you,” seems like an appropriately gentle opener, by the time we’ve reached halfway, Alexis is singing “We built our own love, Outrun the sadness” and the guitar noises that come in sound uncannily like the main backing riff from the Chemical Brothers ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’. However, it’s lines like “If your feelings aren’t a story” and a choral refrain that sounds somewhere between, “I woo” and “Aroo” that reminds us not to take the whole thing too seriously just yet.
This then, is a continuation of Hot Chip’s forays into slightly darker territory, while still retaining the playfulness of the band’s earlier work. In fact, as the beverage-based title suggests, ‘Dark & Stormy’ is self-consciously moody and as such, irreverent at the same time. It’s a welcome return after a short break and, with Joe denying an album is on the cards, it is more than enough to keep us interested in where the band is going.