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As a band that developed a reputation for unpredictability, listening to Hot Chip can be like picking from a musical fun-bag. They have a knack for mixing unusual, sometimes contradictory elements to create a blend of playful, tounge-in-cheek dance pop that can be both raucous and reserved, ironic and compelling.

So when singer Alexis Taylor coos the line, "When you hold me, I feel better," you can't help but wait for the punch line, or at least a cheeky counterpart somewhere else on the album. Don't hold your breath though. One Life Stand, the group's fourth full-length release, abandoned a lot of the off-kilter quirks they've been known for in previous efforts. It's their most straight-forward, conventional pop album.

Conventional for Hot Chip is still far from most of today's standard pop music. The biggest difference, besides the lack of their well-known sense of humor, is that they've narrowed their focus from seven or eight distinct influences to maybe three or four. The hip-hop has been virtually eliminated, while synthy disco and retro house music have taken over the prevailing sound.

The result is still catchy, but unlike their last two albums, there aren't any immediate hits. "Thieves in the Night" and "One Life Stand" are solid songs in their own right, but nothing sticks like "Boy From School" or "Ready For the Floor." This is probably due to the fact that most of the tracks off One Life Stand aim to pull at peoples' heartstrings rather than get them on the dance floor.

Hot Chip have certainly refined their style for One Life Stand. But while they've tightened up their song structure and begun to rely less on silliness, it's hard not to feel like they're capable of so much more.

Contact Camden Andrews at [email protected]

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