Alexis Taylor, the diminutive frontman of the increasingly brilliant Hot Chip has always been a bit of an eccentric. He loves the pop of Prince and the shimmering R&B productions of Timbaland, yet his own work adheres firmly to the quirky end of the pop continuum. So it was hard to know what to expect from this surprise EP, which follows hotly on the tail of Hot Chip's latest, In Our Heads. Especially given that its title references a bizarre bit of footballing trivia from 1993. More of Nayim later.
Opener, 'Rhodes Dream', sets the playful tone of the EP well, as funky staccato bass allied to tight mechanical percussion gradually ebbs away to reveal a fun loving, hedonistic core. The titular piano sound enters, as does a helium treated Alexis falsetto, to create a vibe akin to Stevie Wonder making EDM. It's short and glorious, a perfectly formed slice of outré disco. The following track treads a similarly off kilter path. Cresting on the same house tempos to which much of In Our Heads moved, 'You Want Me' is classic, catchy Hot Chip yet lacking the same big band gloss so obvious on their recent excursions. Instead of crisp and precise song structures, we are treated to extended bongo breakdowns and lengthy didgeridoo style locked grooves (on 'Hot Squash'). Despite its loose limbed, jam like feel the record still sounds unmistakeably like a solo/bedroom project; the work of a hyperactive virtuoso playing with keyboards and having a whale of a time.
Essentially, this release feels like an opportunity for a man brimming with ideas to let off some steam. Away from the Hot Chip moniker, Taylor can unleash his more experimental impulses without laying siege to a carefully streamlined LP of potential hits. This 'just playing' mentality is most marked on the nine minute plus Dan Deacon esque closer, 'Jesus' Birthday' (alas not a potential Christmas hit). Here Taylor strays just over the gossamer thin line separating 'experimental' from 'formless', as vaguely melodic synths unaided by percussion amble interminably throughout the song's mammoth running time.
After Hot Chip's triumphant previous three LPs, Alexis Taylor has earned the right for his Nayim-like punt from the half way line. Though while this EP isn't going to win the Uefa Cup in injury time and make the England keeper look like a buffoon in the process, it does provide an insight into the creative cauldron that is the mind behind one of the UK's most (rightfully) cherished bands. The first two tracks alone are worth the entrance fee, and as such the occasional lapse into indulgence or kitsch is excusable. So if this EP serves as a release valve for Taylor's eccentricities, preventing them from marring the next Hot Chip record, we should definitely be thankful.
6Tim Peyton's Score