Joe Goddard is back to ring the bell outside of the Hot Chip premises with a couple of happy pills in his tummy and in the exquisite company of Raff Rundell. After wreaking havoc with a string of acclaimed EPs, the hairy and potbellied machine behind The 2 Bears puts itself to the test once more – featuring references to the follically endowed members of the gay community and drug-fuelled hedonism –something to be thankful for in these hard times. It's entertainment, some will say. In short: if anyone expected to find hobo folk on the debut album of two fellas in Winnie The Pooh suits bought in some thrift shop - they must be living on some distant planet.
Yes, “ Be Strong” is a record to forget your problems to and sweat it all out, but without the Ibiza raucousness for hooligans or commercial tackiness. This is melodic house and electronic pop, fed on playful breaks, elegant keyboards, catchy loops, ingenious lyrics and light-hearted refrains. It doesn't sound like a simple body fat burner while Hot Chip are taking a break. In spite of the apparent lightness and campus party spirit (the image of Goddard and Rundell with their bear suits on is crazy); the duo's first LP explores the sexuality and lustfulness of brilliant eighties house and disco. “Take A Look Around”, for example, an exquisite tribute to the best Chicago sound, could be taken as the thermometer of the album. The clap, the beat and the soulful vocals are good examples of the rest of the sensational track-list and the song is full of energy and elegance, in equal parts.
Twelve cuts. A long and very accomplished piece of work that doesn't only offer dance-floor gems like “ Ghosts & Zombies” (back to eighties funk-house) and “ Get Together” (irresistible disco dancehall). For example, under its mask of psychedelic synths and cosmic effects, “ The Birds & The Bees” hides a house ballad with calypso echoes that leaves you refreshed - it's the ideal song to start the day with. There are some attempts at bass with a Jamaican accent and pop ambitions (“ Heart Of The Congos”); dreamy melodies buried under tons of synthy madness (“ Church”); electro-pop with brill-cream and bouncy breaks (“ Warm & Easy”) and even some melancholic video game moments flirting with IDM (“I ncrease Your Faith”). But, most of all, there are the danceable minutes and the feeling you have been listening to a record of unforgettable electronic music. Throwaway is not a concept that fits the philosophy of these guys. Goddard and Rundell give us a good time without the guilty feeling of wasting time. And that is not something Baloo, Yogi, Kung Fu Panda - or any of the best bears in the world - could ever achieve.