tremble clef

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hot Chip, "A Family In Here" (2006)

We already know that Hot Chip will break your legs, but here the bastards mostly take aim at our hearts.

An extra track on the "Over And Over" single, this is a surprisingly gentle and moving ballad that was somehow left off The Warning (a bit too similar in tempo to "Look After Me," perhaps). For long stretches, it's backed only by an electric guitar, an unobstructive hi hat, and very gentle, even half-hearted handclaps, until we go into the chorus, during which the lovely chord change is accompanied by slowly rising synth washes. And for just as long stretches, it's not fully clear what the exact story is -- though it certainly seems like a gloomy one, judging by the affecting chorus: "When I go I want to go with you/I want to fall from grace in full public view." On the opening verses, our narrator is at least able to recall his happiness. "Look at me on the dancefloor," he says, "waving hello and goodbye." But the second verse confirms that something went wrong along the way, and any happiness is now merely in the past: "Darling, I don't know where I lost what was in our hands/What can you find in another useless set of plans?"

It is only in the song's final 45 seconds that the exact relationship lost becomes clearer. In only our right ears, Alexis practically whispers: "There's a family in here, somewhere baby/We can't find it, but I know it's in here/There's a feeling inside of me, somewhere baby/I can't find it, but I know it's in me." "So many things seem filled with the intent to be lost," Elizabeth Bishop famously wrote. Cities. Two rivers. A continent. Now, in here, a family.


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