Made In The Dark is the third full-length album from UK-based electronic pop group Hot Chip and considering the largely cohesive quality of The Warning, it's a bit of a head-scratcher. There are certainly some great moments on the release, but a lot fewer great songs than I'm used to with the group. In places, it sounds like a hodge-podge of jams thrown together into a song, with barely any rhyme or reason why.
I can appreciate atypical pop music, and that's certainly what's going on here, but the hooks are fewer and far between as well as the group jumps from hi-energy techno burners to slow jams while again letting songs drag out for too long. "Out At The Pictures" can be forgiven since it's an opener, but the live-intro melt into actual song is pretty representative of what you get on the rest of the album as well. "Shake A Fist" is actually one of the worst offenders, opening with rumbling beats and bass growls while call and response vocals bounce back and forth. Halfway through the song, a spoken sample stops the momentum before the group slams things back down with sampled screams and muffled vocals. It's five minutes of inexplicable retro-rave nods that don't quite work, and like several other songs on the release it's completely frustrating.
The group takes things down a notch in several places, and the results are hit-or-miss like the rest of the album. Both "We’re Looking For A Lot Of Love" and the album-titled "Made In The Dark" mingle buzzing synths and mixed live drums and programmed beats alongside the warm soulful vocals of Alexis Taylor in lovely ways while the album closers of "Whistle For Will" and "In The Privacy Of Our Love" make for a rather blah ending.
There are a couple gems on Made In The Dark, including the excellent "Ready For The Floor," a stuttering electro track that seems to capture everything that makes the group great (including multiple layers of analogue synths and a subtle blend of guitar), while the fun "Don't Dance" builds up with rave-style crescendos and odd beat programming. In other places, though, this is the sort of release that will end up being better when people remix it. As mentioned above, there are plenty of excellent moments, but a lot of the time it just doesn't add up to a great song (the out-of-place indie-rock guitars at the beginning of "One Pure Thought" are a perfect example). Discombobulated and downright clunky, Made In The Dark is a bit of a step back for Hot Chip.