JULY – Joe Goddard – Electric Lines

 

So, I don’t think I need any disclosure here: this feels a little obvious as a ‘Guy Album Of The Month’.  Yes, I love Hot Chip (and LCD, and Joe and Al and Felix and Owen and Alexis and New Build and 2 Bears and…) as much as any other band that’s been around in the last two decades, but this doesn’t make it a throwaway choice. In fact, it’s one of the most listenable albums of the year so far for me, but it’s also much more than ‘oh, that bloke from Hot Chip’s made a solo album of dancefloor bangers’. It’s actually pleasingly more subtle than that, and it’s an LP that you should give a chance, because in many ways, it talks about what music means to me and tries to grab bits of all those *moments* that you have, whether it’s in a club, on the way to work, at a festival, at a gig. It may be ‘dancey’, but it’s not just a dance album. Stick with it and hopefully you’ll end up as rewarded as I do.

Joe’s a proper, unashamed, music geek. He loves disco and Salsoul (more of that later), but also dancehall and dub (just look at The 2 Bears influences). He loves techno and rave, and he loves pop music. But until now, his songs have often been twinned with others – Alexis Taylor in Hot Chip, Raf Rundell in The 2 Bears, as well as his Greco-Roman collective (label and releases-wise) – but while the solo stuff he’s done goes back to 2009, and there’s been some memorable stuff, this feels like a long time coming, and a bit of a new chapter for Goddard. He’s spoken about having a load of new kit, and wanting to make a record that  gets the most out of it, and to push himself in a way that perhaps he doesn’t get when operating within the strictures of a band. But even with the newer sounds he’s created, what his music always sounds is joyous, vibrant, and throbbingly alive. And it takes someone with a cold heart to feel there’s nothing in Electric Lines for them.

So, what’s it like? There’s a myriad of influences, but instead of wrapping them in knowing subtlety, they’re out there front and centre, whether it’s the famous Celeda sample in tribute-heavy and vibes-laden Music Is The Answer, or the Salsoul sample – Brainstorm’s We’re On Our Way Home – in the paen to late-night wobbly post-club treks Home (with its brilliant Pete Fowler cartoons), Joe’s celebrating the music that is important to him, framed in his own template. The album flits around, from Ordinary Madness’ restrained modern soul openings, to shimmering, wide-angle pain of Human Heart, via balls-out 6am sweatbox Lasers, but there is a traceable line, and changes in tempo and feel that works across the length. You don’t make half a dozen albums without knowing how to structure an LP. Above all though, sonically and stylistically, the album shouts ‘HAVE FUN’, and it’s hard not to just let it wash over you and bounce down the road. It’s definitely made for summer and shades.

And with Al’s away with LCD, and Alexis releases piano-based albums, it’s a deserved chance for Joe to get some more limelight. No, it’s not a huge departure from other work he’s done, but why need it be? Alexis joins on the title track to sublime and familiar effect, and there’s some shades of Hot Chip around a few turns, particularly the cascading synth lines of Truth Is Light. But it’s very much Joe’s own project, and an album that shows that solo work doesn’t have to be any more complicated than putting together a load of music that shows who you are, and if that’s about good times, then where’s the evil in that? Despite being the wrong side of 35, he’s not a man that appears to be growing respectable with age (his comments about simply tearing out into Shangri-La and hanging on for the next 4 days made me chuckle), and if you saw his Glastonbury set on the Sunday, it’s a pretty impressive knowing what he probably got up to before that point!

Sometimes albums that are instantly accessible fade quickly, and feel disposable, but this isn’t one. Also, it’s hard to say what you’ll connect with in music. Even something you think you’ll like, it just doesn’t happen. But I’ve listened to it a couple of dozen times, and all I’ve done is feel it speaks to me and those moments you have when you’re out (we’ve all been in that fuzzy cab ride home). And you feel the connection was there from the start. I can’t make you like it, but I can make you listen, and just hope you do.

6 comments

  1. David Allison

    Right. Only on early listens, so first impressions are: First Half: stone cold brilliant. In fact, first 3 songs: AMAZING. But then, second half, fades a bit, and in the last 3 songs, it falls apart quite badly. Seems to go all way from DISCO HEAVEN to Hot Chip b-sides.

    More as and when I have it!

  2. Guy Hornsby

    Interesting, Brother David. I agree that the first half is a cracker. And I get the ‘a bit Hot Chip’ criticism of the second half. Alexis appearing will blur the lines between this and any solo work. But I really love Electric Lines, probably because of that reason, and I think Music Is The Answer is ace too. It doesn’t quite carry the momentum through, but also I think it’s a pretty good dozen tracks.

  3. nolankane706

    Brother Guy, thanks so much for pushing this album into my life. I say this as essentially I love Joe Goddard and what he does. Hot Chip, the Two Bears and also all of his remixes. But sometimes you need this highlighted as one piece of works which this album has.

    So lets dive into this, great first song, the second gets even better, and then HOME… perhaps my tune of the summer. This song in itself is enough to buy this album for. At this point I’m thinking Joe Goddard is now my new best music friend for life.. YES! After this point everything is going really well.. until buddy boy that is the singer in Hot Chip gets involved.

    The thing is, I struggle with Hot Chip, and always have. Musically I think they’re ace. The downside being I can only stomach the lead singer’s vocals for a few songs. So when your man pops in with 3 (YES 3!!!!) songs in a row that are far from his best, the whole experience hit the rocks. This in-turn started an internal conversation. Is he the weak link in Hot Chip and in-fact should they re- position and become Hot Joe? I mean Joe Goddard can sing. He does it with The Two Bears. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.. answers on a postcard.

    I digress, back to Joe Goddard and this album. After the Hot Chip railroading this album brings itself back on track and is fantastic. So all and all an ace album, but will it miss out on top albums of the year due to the Hot Chip B Sides… in my world yes.

  4. misterstory

    Hi Guys. Thanks for this album Guy. Sorry for the mega slow comments. I’ll weigh in with my thoughts

    (1) I’ve listened to this start to finish a lot! I’ve started a new job and have had lots of long drives as a result – this has accompanied pretty much each leg and has been listened to in full more than most albums this summer, that can’t be a bad thing (2) Lose your love is an absolute stormer … I was indifferent to the vocal at first but it has grown on me but OH MY GOD, then it builds and builds and opens up into a majestic massively moving musical moment making me monstrously magical! (3) Home. Boom (4) Lasers I love and really reminds me of the ravey Jamie XX tracks (which were always my fave of his) … oh and its called lazers! (5) it does trail off in the 2nd half (6) but I do really like music is the answer (7) Funk you up is pish (8) but the album ends really strongly with Bumps which I wish was 8 minutes long but sadly isn’t.

    I realise after writing this that I like this album more than I thought I did which was a lot.

    Thank you.

    • whyohwhyohwhy

      Thanks brother Joseph. A pretty comprehensive response there, and I get how you feel. It’s no masterpiece, but also it’s just a good, fun album, made with heart and soul and it’s got some proper bangers on there. I’m not an fan of everything on it, but I still really enjoy listening all the way through, which is always a good sign (interestingly, while I love the new Misty work, I can’t really maintain interest in the whole album right through).

      Glad the brothers are enjoying this.

      Just you left, Paolo.

  5. Paul Adderson

    The first time I heard Home, it made me stop what I was doing and listen and then immediately go away and find out who it was that had created it. Aren’t those kinds of thunderbolts just brilliant? This was shamelessly Balearic and a real throwback to the kind of disco tune that it seemed wasn’t really made anymore but always used to hear all those years ago when I worked in Ibiza.

    Despite loving Hot Chip, I’m not as big a student of the individual band members as some I know and, consequently, didn’t immediately get who Joe Goddard was. However, on the strength of the one song I went along to the Park stage on the Saturday night of this year’s Glastonbury and grinned from ear to ear for the duration of Joe’s ridiculously tightly packed set. What I loved about it was that it felt like a tribute to so many flavours of electronic music; all the boxes are ticked – it was vocal, housey, poppy and seriously danceable all at the same time. During the last song, a host of huuuge balloons were let loose into the crowd and it was only when one of them exploded directly over my head did I realise they all contained copious amounts of glitter. I walked away feeling elated and looking FABULOUS 🙂

    So this was always an album that I was going to get and have listened to this an absolute tonne over the summer. There’s just so much to love throughout, probably because it’s so accessible and instantly familiar. It’s the little things that shine, the moments that when they pop up produce an appreciative grin: the Daft Punk homage in Human Heart; the nod to laser-reaching trance in Children and the “fuck it’, let’s do it!” reworking of Danny Tenaglia’s Music is the Answer to finish proceedings. This is a great pick from Guy but we love easy tap-ins, don’t we?

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