At first blush, Coming on Strong, by Hot Chip is very simple. The beats as well as the lyrics are unassuming. The instrumentation is done in a sort of low-tech techno sound. Does that make any sense? I would compare it to The in Sound from Way Out, the instrumental album the Beastie Boys put out about ten years ago. Yet Hot Chip has vocals, delivered in a very pleasant manner by Joe Goddard (beat master/vocals) and Alexis Taylor (vocals/keyboard).
Hot Chip is a four-piece from London England. This becomes apparent when further on in the album, the singing takes on much more of an accent. I’m pretty sure this is the vocal styling of Joe. Coming on Strong actually starts off kind of weak. While I found the first song to be pleasant, it did not really grab me. However, as the album rolls on it gains momentum to become very good indeed.
Hot Chip is not afraid to infuse their songs with a pervasive humor. However, they seem to approach it in a very serious way. While they don’t sound like Ween (what does Ween sound like, really?), both bands deliver their humor in deadpan. While funny, you don’t feel as if you’re listening to a joke song. The songs are just good. They sing about Stevie Wonder’s eyesight, over a song whose instrumentals are clearly influenced by the man himself. See, they have as much balls as Ween.
While I describe Coming on Strong as starting anemically, after listening to the entire album, I was surprised by how much I truly enjoyed it. Song by song it managed to claw its way up the list of my favorite albums I have reviewed this year. I’d like it as a soundtrack for a gathering of friends. Good, yet not overly insistent. It has depth and layers, but you don’t have to plumb them to enjoy Coming on Strong.