Very good timing by the Londoners of Hot Chip, who almost managed to overcome the Covid crisis. Just after the release of their seventh album, the hedonistic A Bath Full of Ecstasy in June 2019, Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, the band's two masterminds, launched the construction of their brand new "creative space", the Relax & Enjoy Studio in East London. Opened after a year-long pandemic, the studio has allowed Hot Chip to come together during these difficult times for artists and taste unprecedented creative freedom. "Everything is on all the time, and it's very easy to record what we do," they say. Yet they have not escaped the world's angsty zeitgeist. Throughout Freakout/Release, freshly released by the Domino label, they deliver compositions with a certain "darkness" to them, as they admit.
The record starts off with Down, a nervous single mixed by the Belgian duo Soulwax, who join a little later on the title track Freakout/Release, a raw and Kraftwerkian synthpop-esque track. In the meantime, Hot Chip delivers the very successful disco/pop track Eleanor, a rather feel-good mood that is quickly counterbalanced by the falsely cheerful Broken, which opens a retro and melancholic passage leading into Not Alone and Hard to Be Funky.
"We were living in a period where it was very easy to feel that people were losing control of their lives in different ways," says Joe Goddard to justify the moodiness that envelops the second half of Freakout/Release, between the lo-fi, Depeche Mode-esque vibe of Time and Miss the Bliss, the chiaroscuro of The Evil That Men Do with Toronto rapper Cadence Weapon, to the finale Out of My Depth, a track that has all the makings of a fan favourite.