QuickTakes: Hot Chip and Lil Wayne

Hatchet Arts looks at Hot Chip and the newest from Lil Wayne.

“Rebirth”

Lil Wayne

In the opening verse of “American Star,” the first track on Lil Wayne’s highly anticipated rap/rock album “Rebirth,” the rapper explains: “I’m the dope-boy with a guitar.” Here, the New Orleans native establishes his thesis for the album: a lot of guitar and a lot of singing. Throughout that song, and the album, it becomes clear Wayne struggled to combine hard rock with the flowing rhymes and metaphors that have made him famous.

Although he makes a sincere attempt, Wayne’s experimentation with his voice feels artificial. On the track “Ground Zero,” Wayne’s voice sounds strained, as if trying to emulate the harsh vocals of Linkin Park.

Perhaps the most startling feature of this album is the guitar line in “Runnin,” a track strikingly similar to Incubus’ 2003 “Megalomaniac.” With its eerie introduction and sudden rise in tempo, the listener cannot help but ask: Hasn’t this been done before?

This album finds some success on passionate tracks like “Paradice,” in which Wayne addresses the price of fame, claiming: “Call me crazy. I’ve been called worse. It’s like I have it all, but what’s it all worth?” Appearances by Travis Barker on “One Way Trip” and Eminem on “Drop the World” are nice asides to an album that generally struggles to find its sound.

Ultimately, “Rebirth” suffers from a lack of cohesion. Wayne pulls from several genres, from head-banging guitar riffs in “One Way Trip” to ’80s pop in “On Fire.” Consequently, “Rebirth” never hits its musical stride.

And so Weezy’s new album ends up flat-lining. Sorry, Dr. Carter, I think we lost one. Let’s just hope “Tha Carter IV” has a pulse.

Written by Patrick Rochelle

“One Life Stand”

Hot Chip

In its new album “One Life Stand,” London quintet Hot Chip simultaneously builds upon its electronic-rock reputation and takes its sound to more polished heights.

Ever since Hot Chip’s 2005 debut, when it established itself as a strange and unique brand of indie, nerdy electro-rock, the group has persistently played with soul and R&B. This experimentation has helped Hot Chip stand out in the electro-rock crowd, and helped underscore playfulness as one of the band’s defining aspects.

With “One Life Stand,” much of those musical flirtations have blended invisibly into its signature sound, rather than vanished. The outcome sounds more akin to ’80s synth-heavy electronica than the quirky and ironic indie base from which they spouted. The track “I Feel Better” features not only strangely enjoyable auto-tuned vocals, but a synth-produced orchestral loop that sounds as if it has been stolen directly from 1988.

While “One Life Stand” is missing much of the fiery, avant-garde feel that characterized 2008’s “Made in The Dark,” their newest album takes a genre-breaking approach that expands upon their sound.

Written by Matthew Mersky

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