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Hot Chip - A Bath Full of Ecstasy (Album Review)

Thursday, 27 June 2019 Written by Ben Gladman

Photo: Ronald Dick

For a band like Hot Chip, who have built a career out of floor-filling synth-pop anthems, the title ‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’ was always going to raise a few eyebrows and roll a few eyes back. 

But in several interviews, Joe Goddard has encouraged a broader view of the title than the rave conclusions many may jump to: besides its chemical connotation, “ecstasy” has its roots in the Greek philosophy of out of body experiences (ekstasis translates to “standing outside”). This is at the core of the album. 

Throughout its 10 tacks, Goddard, Alexis Taylor and co. search for a timeless, reckless sense of abandon. In various guises they sink into a specific moment or an emotional connection as one would into a warm bath, with sometimes comforting but other times desperately melancholy results.

The LP’s two singles exemplify these extremes. Melody of Love is a gorgeous opener—a massive ballad that takes the kind of sentimental, dilated-pupil platitudes that in the light of day seem embarrassing and cloaks them in soaring synthesisers, pitch-perfect harmonies, and gospel samples. While there is a darker edge lurking in the lyrics, the song always finds a positive conclusion in its repeated title. 

Hungry Child, on the other hand, is stuck in the past. Goddard is “helpless in a stormy sea, drowning in the memory”. The instrumentation is still huge, but here strangely muted, with its thudding drums and washed out synthesisers evoking a party heard through a bathroom wall as you try to compose yourself in the mirror.

Other tracks display a similar duality. Positive cleverly twists its title around from an affirmation to a plea for a lover to change their mind: “With certainty can you tell me if a decision’s made?” Clear Blue Skies, meanwhile, explores the futility of love in the face of cosmic insignificance, and the band wear their Brian Eno influence on their collective sleeve. Spell is sensual and delirious, but speaks of “curses” and “haunting”.

In a way, this is what makes Hot Chip’s sound so affecting: it is joyous and catchy but possesses a melancholy edge that always hints at a loss of control and the subsequent comedown. ‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’ ranges from existential despair to pure bliss without once losing momentum.

Hot Chip Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun August 04 2019 - GLASGOW Rouken Glen Park
Wed October 16 2019 - BELFAST Limelight
Thu October 17 2019 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Fri October 18 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Mon October 21 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Tue October 22 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Thu October 24 2019 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Sat October 26 2019 - LONDON Alexandra Palace

Click here to compare & buy Hot Chip Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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