Freakout / Release

Freakout / Release

“Just to be able to get together and make some music was enough of an impetus to pour lots of enthusiasm into recording and writing,” Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor tells Apple Music. “We had so much pent-up energy that came out in the recordings.” The 11 tracks that make up the group’s eighth album see Hot Chip pushing further into thumping, danceable territory on the infectious “Down” and “Miss the Bliss,” while other numbers like “The Evil That Men Do” and “Out of My Depth” touch on a new vein of introspection and social commentary. “We were responding to an uncertain time,” guitarist Al Doyle says. “We were hoping that, with these tracks, we’d all be able to come together and enjoy the music once more.” Read on for Taylor and Doyle’s in-depth thoughts on the album, track by track. “Down” Alexis Taylor: “This was the first track we made, as Joe [Goddard] came into the studio with a sample from Universal Togetherness Band’s track ‘More Than Enough’ at the start of our session, and we all got to work right away responding to it. The song summarizes what it feels like to be back together with your bandmates and having fun at work, in the studio.” Al Doyle: “It came together very quickly. Everybody was throwing themselves at different instruments, and it didn’t really change from the original demo that we made in two days. It became a touchstone for a lot of the other songs on the record because it has this infectiously raw and raucous energy to it.” “Eleanor” AT: “‘Eleanor’ was written towards the end of the album. We were responding to Joe playing a few chords on the CS-80 synth in the studio, and I wrote the words right there and then. We can usually all tell when a song we’re making is going to be a single—we had the same feeling with ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready for the Floor.’ There’s an excitement about throwing in as many good ideas as you can and helping to make that single happen. This song was a bag full of hooks and we’re all very proud of it.” “Freakout / Release” AT: “Joe had an idea that, the whole way through this song, a bass riff should continue to play, going from loud to quiet and vice versa, in the same way that ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes has a riff that drives the whole setup. That led to us getting the instrumental ingredients and the explosive moments of the track together, but we struggled with the rest of it.” AD: “We knew there was a really good song, but we couldn’t figure out how to find the best version of it. Then we had the idea to see what Soulwax would do if they were given the song, and they ultimately came up with something that we all really liked.” AT: “The lyrics are about people being stuck and locked down, and perhaps they’re freaking out at home. But we’re also talking about a moment of release, a moment of being able to freak out publicly with other people in a crowd, and we were projecting forward to when we could do that together by playing this song.” “Broken” AT: “I was feeling emotionally quite exhausted at this point in our writing period, and I had a few friends of mine who were going through difficult times in their personal lives too. I wanted to sum up that feeling of approaching desperation and trying to find the language to express yourself, since then somebody might be able to support you. It came together quite quickly in the studio, which was exciting because we all contributed to it as we were recording. Musically, we were thinking of George McCrae, Robyn, and ABBA.” “Not Alone” AT: “This was, perhaps, the last song we wrote on the album. Joe had recorded this very heavily processed vocal sound at home, and the words I’m singing in response to him are partly about having your outlook changed by collaborating with somebody new and also about questioning the morals and values of those you might have once idolized. It’s all pretty hidden away in the song, but it was what I was thinking through at the time.” “Hard to Be Funky” (feat. Lou Hayter) AT: “I thought of this as a solo track first, before playing it to the band. I came up with the demo and I was imagining Bill Callahan singing it in his low voice, since when I think of giving a track to someone else, I can explore a different facet of how I write. The track is playing with the idea of what it means to be funky and how that is intrinsically linked to the idea of sexiness.” AD: “We collaborated with Lou Hayter quite spontaneously, since she only lives around the corner from the studio. We wanted somebody else’s voice and perspective on the chorus, and we knew she would do a great job, so we called her in. She nailed it all in one afternoon.” “Time” AD: “‘Time’ went through a hell of a lot of iterations. Joe and I worked on it a bit as a separate venture, and then Alexis had this very catchy chorus that came out as a response to that. We ultimately let it be something that was quite dance-floor-oriented, since we wanted it to be representative of that side of Hot Chip.” “Miss the Bliss” AD: “Joe had been working on this for a while. The track has a choral aspect of group vocals, and he decided that it would be fun to get his brother to come in and do some of the backing for it. Having him in the studio was fantastic because he’s a wonderful spirit that we have known for years.” AT: “Joe’s kids and my daughter and my younger brother and various other friends joined in, too, to create a choir of voices. The song is all about offering support to each other and encouraging people not to be afraid to reach out if they need to.” “The Evil That Men Do” (feat. Cadence Weapon) AT: “We have written songs that are political before, but nothing quite so overt as this. The song is telling men that they need to recognize and take responsibility for their own behavior and the behavior of those who came before them. We can’t ignore the atrocities that continue to go on around us. We had Cadence Weapon opening for us on tour in America and Canada years ago, and we got in touch to ask him to add a verse for us based on the themes I was writing about. What he came up with was perfect.” “Guilty” AD: “This was a satisfying one to write, as I was just testing my bass guitar in the studio one day and I played the main four chords that we ended up using in this track.” AT: “It sounded really good, and we responded to Al’s bassline with the other elements of the song. It felt like mid-’80s Prince musically, and I was trying to write about the things that go on in people’s heads while they’re asleep—how they can compartmentalize their thoughts to be so different from who they are when they’re awake.” “Out of My Depth” AT: “I wrote most of this track at home on the guitar and then came straight into the studio so we could all build on it from there. That was a good way of starting a song because it didn’t already foreground a potential style. We ended up coming up with something quite psychedelic then, with a krautrock feel to it. It’s a good song to end on, as it summarizes a lot of the themes of the record: telling yourself that if you’re approaching a place that’s emotionally bleak, there are ways to get help and get yourself out of that headspace of feeling trapped. It’s a necessary message to end on.”

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