Alexis Taylor has never been just been one thing. He’s best known as the lead singer of British electronica band Hot Chip, but those who have dug around in the London musician’s wider discography will know Taylor is a bit of a musical polymath. His first solo album ‘Rubbed Out’ was a gorgeous collection of electric-tinged pop and his most recent, 2016’s ‘Piano’ put emphasis on his songwriting abilities – stripping back his songs to their core. ‘Beautiful Thing’, his fourth solo album, is probably his most overt and successful attempt to marry the pulsating aura of Hot Chip and the more melancholy and freaky output of his solo career.
As a result, ‘Beautiful Thing’ is an expansive and experimental collection of songs – one that refuses to sit still or be defined. The album’s opener ‘Dreaming Of Another Life’ is a brooding slice of electronica buzzing like a humid rainforest with background noise; the following two songs will have you shimmying towards the dancefloor (‘Beautiful Thing’) and then back out to the chill-out zone (‘Deep Cut’). In a flash, Taylor is able to turn subtlest of beats into a party-starter and the gentlest chords into a blissed-out winner.
At its best, the record builds on some of the weirder elements in Hot Chip, but at its worst spirals into self-indulgence. ‘A Hit Song’ meanders towards an underwhelming finale and the album’s final track ‘Out of Time’ fails in toeing the line between being experimental and engaging, ending the album on a dull note. These types of songs may have worked on ‘Piano’, but when we get them along with the more electrifying side of Taylor’s musicianship, they feel like a missed opportunity.