Joe Goddard - Electric Lines Review
On 2015's "Huarache Lights", Hot Chip's engine room of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard addressed the unrelenting advance of technology and questioned the role of humans, especially in the making of music. That album, Why Make Sense?, was a wonderful lesson in control and restraint, like they were trying to prove to the world electro-pop music doesn't have to be a fat kid sitting at their computer playing around with Fruity Loop pads.
If that album was restrained, Electric Lines, Goddard's second solo record, is an explosion of technicolour, a spit-shined record of influence and nostalgia. It's closer in scope and creation to a Girl Talk album than anything the EDM kings are creating in 2017, yet there's always a sense of "he can do it too" with Goddard's work. The sample that provides a beautiful build up in "Home" could just as easily explode into the stratosphere, Chainsmoker's style. Instead, we hear Goddard, his falsetto seemingly stronger with age, crooning and urging the beat along. There's a true sense of authenticity and warmth underpinning each thought or sound presented.
And the influences? It reads like a laundry list of beautiful sounds from the past 30 years. There is a wonderful clash of 80s disco and mid-90s electronica on "Funk You Up", huge late-90s pop on "Ordinary Madness", and mid-2000s art-pop on "Human Heart". "Lasers" might be the most promising of the bunch, as Goddard grabs from 3 separate decades to create a glitched-out dance number that's as at home in South London at 4am on a Tuesday morning as it is in the epic European raves of the 90s. Rarely can an artist or group take inspiration from such a wide variety of time periods and sounds and deliver a coherent album that requires no skipping and houses no filler. Now you know why Hot Chip haven't put out a bad record in 13 years.
Although Goddard is ever-present behind the decks, it's his voice that endears the most. On slow burn "Nothing Moves" he's vulnerable, crooning about the power of emotion over that of the five senses. The very next track is "Electric Lines", which features Alexis Taylor, and shows just how alike these two are in their approach to vocals. Taylor is smooth and unflustered, reprising his role on 2015's "Hurarache Lights" in an impassioned defence of heart and soul in contemporary pop music, and life in general. This track ties the narrative of the record up nicely, especially when followed by "Music Is The Answer". This isn't an album designed to throw shade at electronic producers who sit in front of their computer and write all their music to a formula. It's a plea for the world to drag their heads out of technology long enough to see the beauty and brilliance through their own eyes, in full HD. The only time a kid hears an Aphex Twin song from the 90s is when some edgy news outlet claims "Windowlicker" is one of the greatest videos of all time. Goddard isn't grabbing your phone out of your hand, or locking it away in the top drawer, he's politely asking you to please pay attention, because there is more to life than how many Instagram likes that picture of your truffle-salted bowl of chips gets.