Hot Chip

From its debut to this third album, Hot Chip has traveled an uneven path. The British quintet started out experimenting with sound sources and working entirely beyond conventional parameters, but by its sophomore effort had become bizarrely electro-pop conformist. Now, on Made in the Dark, the band bests itself by becoming even more eccentric than it was at the outset.

At first listen, it seems as if no identifiable traditional instruments have been used on Dark. Yet there is a tangible sense of melody as well as cleanly built song structures. And the track "Ready for the Floor" even almost becomes a pop song, with rhyming lyrics and a painfully infectious, bouncing synth bass line. Meanwhile, "We're Looking for a Lot of Love" is a winning effort at a digital ballad. While all of this makes the band accessible to new fans, it might also alienate a few of the hard-core enthusiasts of the group's eccentric stylistics. Still, Dark has found the balance between orthodox and unorthodox. And even the most loyal follower will have to concede that.