Album Review: Hot Chip - A Bath Full of Ecstasy

Publish Date
Thursday, 8 August 2019, 2:29PM

By: David Skipwith

English synth-pop icons Hot Chip are at their colourful and playful best on their new album, 'A Bath Full of Ecstasy'.

Their seventh studio project and first since 2015's 'Why Make Sense', 'A Bath Full of Ecstasy' is Hot Chip's third under the banner of British indie label Domino Records, and their most confident and epic sounding release to date.

As the title suggests, the sound and vision of the new record sees the eclectic five-piece embracing ecstasy – the emotion rather than the Class B drug, they insist.

Throughout nine tracks they achieve a Beach Boys-like balance between happiness and melancholy and press upon the sweet spot between their electronic and pop sensibilities more than ever before.

The strong pop flavour is due in part to the fact the writing process was kick-started while founding members Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard spent four days in London's Air Studios helping Katy Perry make her 2017 album Witness. One track, Into Me You See, made the cut to close out Perry's album, while Hot Chip took the bones of two songs - Spell and Echo - and rewired them for Bath Full of Ecstasy.

Recorded in London and Paris, the pair embraced a more collaborative approach to songwriting with other band members Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, and Felix Martin.

The project also marks the first time in their near 20-year history where they worked with outside producers, Scotsman Rodaidh McDonald (David Byrne, The XX) and the late Philippe "Zdar" Cerboneschi, a 90s French electronica pioneer, who died tragically in June, aged 52 - just a day before Bath Full of Ecstasy landed on record store shelves.

The album begins brightly with Melody of Love, Spell, and the album title track showcasing Taylor's gentle vocals and the groups grounding in hypnotic house rhythms.

The influence of 80s pop such as Depeche Mode and New Order begin to shine midway through on Echo, but restraint is evident within the pulsing Hungry Child, which helps to keep the album's sound rooted in modern dance music.

A softer dream-like quality washes over your ears as it closes with Why Does My Mind, Clear Blue Skies and No God, giving the album a varied listening appeal that continues to pay off the more you hear it.

Step in confidently for a listen, as Hot Chip has the temperature just right here.

4/5

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission