Given that the various members of Hot Chip have various side-hustles and secondary creative outlets, it’s a little surprising how much of ‘Freakout / Release’ sounds quite this forced. Take the title track. Even moving past the fact its name itself appears to be an attempt to reflect the zeitgeist of successive lockdowns at least twelve months too late, when it uses cringe-inducing couplets such as “Music used to be an escape / Now I can’t escape it” to channel its disillusionment, fists are being bit. Or ‘Broken’, on which Alexis Taylor repeats his question, “Am I just broken?” so many times, the intended sentimentality of the whole track is lost completely. They do get it right on occasion too, though. Opener ‘Down’ is a gorgeous slice of ‘70s-indebted funk, against which Alexis’ deadpan delivery provides delicious contrast. ‘The Evil That Men Do’ is both lightly hypnotic and gives the record an injection of much-needed energy thanks to a Cadence Weapon guest spot. ‘Hard To Be Funky’ is a stealth earworm that revels in lyrical awkwardness (“Funky is a funny word / And I don’t know just what it means / But I know / That it means / The world to you and me”) and features a bonus Lou Hayter in disco ice queen mode, and ‘Eleanor’ an immediate earworm (not least because it bears an uncanny resemblance to Harry Styles’ smash ‘As It Was’ in the chorus).
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