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Review: Electric Lines (2017) by Joe Goddard

Electric Lines is the first proper solo album from Joe Goddard of Hot Chip fame. While it bears some things in common with his main band – Hot Chip lead singer Alexis Taylor even provides guest vocals on the title track – the album definitely has a more dance orientated sound.

And while I’m not a huge fan of dance music, Electric Lines is pretty good as far as it goes. Tracks like ‘Ordinary Madness’ and ‘Truth In Light’ have solid beats to them and catchy lyrics – even though they do border on cheesy a little bit too much. ‘Music Is The Answer’, however, is probably the album’s main stand-out – also being the most accessible song on here. As a closer, it distils what the album is about as a whole – addressing Goddard’s interest in exploring dance music directly: ‘Music is the answer to your problems / Keep on moving and you can solve them.’

‘Children’, a long mostly instrumental track that sits at the middle of the album, is another highlight; Goddard manages to create an interesting and textured musical landscape, and the song really feels like it progresses despite the same lyrics being uttered over and over. There’s a lot of layers to the song, and I appreciate it being interesting and odd as well as very danceable.

However, despite these highlights, I found that much of the album is pretty middling. One of the main problems I had with Electric Lines throughout is that it feels pretty flat. Apart from a few exceptions – like the aforementioned ‘Children’ – the album feels lacking in layers and general oomph. ‘Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love’ and ‘Home’ are two good examples of this. The songs should be great – and, in many ways, they feel like great songs that have just been executed poorly.

Despite its very immediate start, ‘Home’ feels incredibly flat throughout. The vocals sort of fade in with the instruments and get hidden under all the synths and drum beats. And even when the chorus kicks in, in what feels like it should be a big almost anthemic moment, the song stays just as flat. The same thing happens on ‘Lose Your Love’. When the backing vocals kick in, singing ‘I don’t wanna lose your love’, it doesn’t feel like Goddard is turning things up a notch. It all just stays on the same level.

Additionally, songs like ‘Lasers’ and ‘Nothing Moves’ fall into the meh through simply not being that interesting. The instrumentation isn’t too exciting on them, and the lyrics on ‘Nothing Moves’ are particularly poor: ‘When I close my eyes / I see nothing but you.’ Another strong contender for the album’s most groan-worthy lyrics is ‘Electric Lines’, in which Alexis Taylor laments about how quickly technology is changing. It’s cheesy in a way that reminds me of the weak Hot Chip track.

Electric Lines isn’t an album I’d recommend to the average music-listener, as there isn’t really enough substance here to sink your teeth into. If you’re particularly passionate about dance music however, you might find something to enjoy here – ‘Music Is The Answer’ is at least worth a listen.

Essential Songs: ‘Ordinary Madness’, ‘Children’, ‘Music Is The Answer’.