Electric Lines (Greco-Roman/Domino)
It’s sometimes thought that burly Joe Goddard is the more beats/tech/esoteric/unsentimental half of the songwriting core of Hot Chip, alongside the slender pop fan Alexis Taylor.
His side excursions as part of 2 Bears and his DJ/production work may lend some credence to that occasionally but really it’s a fundamental misreading of Goddard (and Hot Chip) that his new solo album dispels pretty quickly.
Electric Lines is many of the strands of Goddard’s interests crossing paths, much like the cables from his decks, screen, keyboards and the PA – those actual “electric lines” - might cross.
These interests include by the way, children/fatherhood: shown from the start by the sample of distant crying and laughing babies before the first official sounds of Ordinary Madness drop.
As Goddard told me five years ago, "Myself and Alexis both have families and it's an obvious thing to say but those are very big parts of our lives and so those things come through in the songs that we write. And those things are things that are very joyful but are also very serious.”
Certainly joyous and serious are represented on Electric Lines, lyrically and musically. The rise to euphoria in Home for example is gospel-like as a swirling ascendant chorus soars. But the next track, Lasers, trims its sails to barping synths, a wash of low skies and terse beats, vocals eschewed for implications.
The title track, on which Hot Chip’s Taylor is the guest vocalist, takes the metaphor of our regular technology updates (and also the craft v traditional beer argument) as a way to explain the pleasures of a shared adventure while accreting optimism in the almost imperceptible musical shifts.
But there’s more to this than that happy/sad breakdown. Pull in at any point of the record and you’ll find house and funk, pop and soul, techno and garage, ‘80s R&B and ‘70s disco. They never feel tacked on either: these are constituent parts of Goddard.
Children’s blurry Euro-trance slides into the skittish Truth Is Light like shifting from a warehouse party to an upstairs bar. The glistening pop of Ordinary Madness is a warm up for the satin-and-flares first half of Lose Your Love, which shifts in turn in its final two minutes into a dinky keyboards take on ‘90s chill.
And the Detroit-meets-uptown New York blend in the aforementioned Home – with Daniel Wilson bringing the subdued verses around the diva-chorus – merges into a glorious hands in the air climax.
By the time the album closes with a declaration that “music is the answer to your problems, keep on moving, then you can solve them” you are inclined to believe Goddard. Or at least figure it can’t do you any harm to try as Jess Mills points to its ability to “take me higher still”.
Turns out Joe Goddard is a big softy really.