Hot Chip

Made in the Dark
Astralwerks

Alexis Taylor and the rest of the Hot Chip crew are so devoted to dis-playing their intelligence and cheek that the band's electro-pop shenanigans can seem positively exhausting at times. But while a handful of numbers on Made in the Dark overdo the cleverness, the majority manage to avoid the worst pitfalls of excess.

"Out at the Pictures" flirts with full-on campiness, albeit in an often diverting way — but "Bendable Poseable" devotes so much time to wacky beats and off-kilter arrangements that it only works as a curio. Fortunately, the ornate rave-up "Touch Too Much" and the jittery "Hold On" strike an enjoyable balance between hooks and grooves, and the outfit's down-tempo offerings provide more than a mere change of pace. Highlights include the unexpectedly affecting "We're Looking for a Lot of Love" and the title cut, a piano ballad that comes within spitting distance of earnestness.

Smart is good, but sincerity can be even better.

 
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