Why Make Sense?, the latest album from British electronic band Hot Chip, wants to woo you. It’s a late-night record, made for both bedroom serenades and last-call slow-jams alike. The group’s dance music has always mixed a healthy dose of reverence in with its hedonism, extolling the beauty of both the fleeting and the eternal. And while soulful come-ons have long been an essential part of the band’s makeup, the new album places that element of seduction front and center. Hot Chip has sunk itself into crafting a record for the wee hours of the disco, for the party that’s starting to get intimate, where the wild times have died off but no one’s ready to go home—at least, not alone.
Six albums in, Hot Chip doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of surprises, but with such strong songwriting and a languidly sexy mood tying it all together, it doesn’t need to. “Huarache Nights” kicks Why Make Sense? off with a smooth, mellow groove, a continuation of the band’s soft-rock predilections combined with the vibe of a 1980s downtown lizard lounge. When a robotic voice halfway through announces the intention to “replace us with the things that do the job better,” the bouncing synth groove comes back twice as forceful, but no less velvety. It’s a statement of intent for the album that follows, all winking nods and crooning testimonials to the promise of intimacy.
From there, the album pulls out all the stops in the sultry player handbook. “Love Is The Future” provides a blast of swaggering ’90s R&B that, were it not for the falsetto vocals, could be a De La Soul backing track—so it’s fitting when that act’s Posdnuos shows up for a guest verse. “Cry For You” is techno-driven glitch-pop, like a latter-day Trans Am song fused onto the chassis of a soulful speaker-box lament about loneliness and the search for love. The album proceeds along these lines, mixing Stevie Wonder synths, Prince-ly funk, and those signature high-pitched vocals into a heady stew. By the time the minimalist throb of “Easy To Get” announces “No fear—fear doesn’t live here any more,” you believe it, because the suave and debonair vibe wouldn’t permit such nonsense.
The centerpiece of the album is “Dark Night,” the greatest Daft Punk song Daft Punk never wrote. It’s an operatic and swooping “Get Lucky,” refashioned with a more languid vibe and a breakdown imported straight from Studio 54. The beat practically demands obedience; it’s the most direct dance-floor entreaty on the album. As the album reaches its conclusion, penultimate track “So Much Further To Go” mellows the vibe even as it deepens the motifs, the party breaking up as the sun starts to rise. Why Make Sense? concludes with the anthemic title track, propelled by a live-drum sound and a chorus of voices extolling the virtues of losing yourself to something greater. The moving and masterful song announces day has broken on the night. Its title may claim there’s no need, but Hot Chip’s new record makes complete sense.