“Fuck it all, motherfucker / I’m going straight to The Hot Spot!”, a grizzled-souding Clams Baker yelps over the bass-heavy disco groove of ‘Wild Flowers’. The Warmduscher frontman is putting on his best Bukowski halfway through the band’s fourth album, reeling through a list of everything that eating away at him: smartphone machines, the cheap cologne on his neck, brown envelopes sliding under the door – even a little stupid dog with a furry collar.
Arriving in 2014 as an offshoot of Fat White Family, the London-based bunch have offered some brilliant moments across their three albums to date. At times, listening to 2019’s breakthrough ‘Tainted Lunch‘ felt like stumbling into one of Keith Haring’s legendary genre-mashing NYC parties, such was its blend of soul and hip-hop with a sinister post-punk edge. They even managed to employ Iggy Pop’s iconic growling monotone on the vibrant single ‘Rules Of The Game’.
The band pull you into this grotty space once again on their latest full-length ‘At The Hotspot’. Produced by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Al Doyle, the album centres around a vague neon-lit utopia referenced in the title. But what exactly is this Hotel California-style place? They offer a few clues over the funk-indebted jam of opener ‘Live At The Hotspot’, as the hazy protagonist moves around the club, offering a rambling commentary on other dicey regulars: “You might find love at the hotspot / You might find pain, you might find joy…”
The album thrives best when it sucks you into this seedy Americana, notably on the single ‘Fatso’, as Baker casually adopts an absentminded croon behind a Gary Numan-like synth line: “No time for puddin’ / Don’t pay the bill, man / Just tip er’ twice before you leave.” Elsewhere the thumping glitchy bass of ‘Twitchen’ In The Kitchin’ is a playful highlight with cheered chants and dialogue that could be pulled from Grand Theft Auto: “Hey buddy – drag this asshole off the beach.”
The freewheeling spirit does occasionally give way to a less exciting middle ground: ‘Eight Minute Machines’ comes as a blast of scuzzy guitar-driven punk we’ve heard a lot of in recent years, where the six-minute closer ‘Greasin’ Up Jesus’ is built around a drum machine doesn’t go anywhere in particular. For the most part, though, this is clearly the sound of a band ready to party once more, making for another carnival of different sounds and offbeat ideas.
Release date: April 1
Record label: Bella Union