[6] Hot Chip, ‘Let Me Be Him’

Hot Chip

“All Hot Chip songs sound the same,” says Junior’s mum and then attempts to sing ‘Over And Over’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’ over the top. I don’t think that’s right. In fact I always argue they’re wildly variable – but, um, I’m just talking quality there, aren’t I? They have a certain mode and occasionally enhance it with a spine-shivering hook, that’s the Hot Chip way. A singles band? They’re probably the most consistent presence in my year-end charts but I can never go crazy about their albums, so yeah. Which makes it all the weirder that ‘Let Me Be Him’ is just an album track.

Half a dozen singles from an OK album and you don’t release the best track?

Junior’s kinder, if a bit avant-garde. She breakdances in slow motion then tries to imitate Hot Chip’s banks of synths on her Nintendo DS. Hey Alexis, Joe, Al, the others – you’re inspiring a whole new generation!

I don’t quite know where the song’s going. Let me be “him” – who? Your man? The guy with all the ideas? Everything I ever wanted to be? But words are just adornments when the central pull of ‘Let Me Be Him’ is a wordless chorus, somewhere between Enigma’s ‘Return To Innocence’ and New Kids On The Block’s ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)’. It’s neither as hammy nor as airheaded as those though. It’s a euphoric, embracing release that draws us into Hot Chip’s circle, bathes us in the generosity that characterises all their best work. And this is one of their best.

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[2] Take That, ‘Back For Good’

Well I never. There are two types of people: those who understand that this is a pop classic and those who reckon that Robbie Williams’ wrongheaded, legacy-pissing, smug “punk” cover is somehow better. That kind of thing narks me right off. They’re the same earnest Mojo readers who dislike ‘.. Baby One More Time’ and ‘Independent Women’ but fawn over Travis’ and Elbow’s respective versions. Bands who do this believe that they’re legitimising the song by stripping the pop nous and adding dreary rock chords. They’re not. It’s an in-joke that reveals their fear of what the boys might think.

You can possibly tell which side of the fence I occupy. I never had a problem with Take That, a blessed relief after New Kids On The Block. The songs were ordinary, inoffensive, with the odd one or two rising above the parapet. Then I saw them perform this on the Brits and was bowled over by the hooks and its near perfect form. The middle eight is weak, but nothing else is, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Hindsight shows it was a one-off for Gary Barlow, the awkward, rotund George Michael that never was.

Junior and I didn’t have time to discuss the record. She sat in the ring and chewed her foam pig while I puzzled over why the mixer was making everything sound fuzzy. I should dust more often. A flawed performance then, an ill-fitting tribute to this soppy dazzler.