Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy

Hot Chip's new album is a giddy, nerdy and camp appreciation of all sides of dance music

Album Review by Stephen Butchard | 19 Jun 2019
  • Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Album title: A Bath Full of Ecstasy
Artist: Hot Chip
Label: Domino
Release date: 21 Jun

Hot Chip are known for being floor-ready. The band’s two-decade-long discography is full of clever, borderline nerdy jams built for sweaty dancing at 3am. Like LCD Soundsystem or New Order, they bring indie-heads, techno kids and your mum together, by combining tightly-wound grooves with quirky writing and undeniable choruses. They’ve been incredibly consistent in this area, without ever paying attention to passing trends. When the Disclosure boom had everyone trying their hand at slick pop-house, Hot Chip were playing with midi-trumpets and krautrock on In Our Heads.

And now, while British chart music bobs to one self-serious whitewashed dembow beat, Hot Chip stay nerdy with an optimistic, unabashedly camp pop album that feels dedicated to the good times they’ve soundtracked for so long. On A Bath Full of Ecstasy, the band aren’t concerned with writing an obvious banger. Hot Chip don’t use drops. Instead, opener Melody of Love takes time to blossom, with sparkling synths that gently wrap around the track. The title track borders on soft rock, making you sway like a good Fleetwood Mac song, with nuggets of auditory detail Rumours would be proud of. The slippery vocoder vocals on the chorus are subtly lifted by a plethora of instrumental quirks, and a constantly shifting backbeat.

The band consistently reward close listening with little treasures, like on Echo, where a deceptively barebones instrumental is coloured with keys that decay slightly differently every few seconds, and bass that uses flourishes so understated they’re basically subconscious. That’s to say nothing of the songwriting, which is as catchy and uncool as ever. Hungry Child has a hook so good it feels like five hooks sandwiched on top of each other, Scooby-Doo style. The band remain experts at extending songs well, like on Why Does My Mind, which waits a good five minutes before giving us a full drumbeat. The song is full enough that you’d hardly notice until it happens.

The band finish with the piano vamp of No God, which leans on literal bells and whistles in its percussive-heavy performance, and understated melody lines. Its sunny presentation is downright cheesy, but that’s nothing new with this band – just look at that album cover. But their giddy appreciation of all sides of dance music could melt away the cynicism of any music fan.

Listen to: Hungry Child, Echo