It is a good time to be Hot Chip, a thinking-person's dance band in the vein of LCD Soundsystem and TV on the Radio. Last month the quintet released its fifth album, "In Our Heads," and headlined the Lovebox festival in front of tens of thousands of fans in the band's hometown of London.
On Friday Hot Chip will play the comparatively tiny First Avenue, the first stop on an eight-date North American tour. The Minneapolis venue brings to mind the song "Down With Prince," a profane pledge of allegiance (and shameless musical rip-off) of the purple funkster from Hot Chip's 2004 debut record, "Coming on Strong."
Eight years later, Hot Chip is still having fun name-checking other performers. "I like Zapp, not Zappa/So please quit your jibber-jabber," goes the rap-talk punch line to the group's latest hit single, "Night and Day." But now, the instrumental mix is more sophisticated -- at once plush and jagged, an irresistible staccato groove.
"We've always been more of a pop band than a dance band," said Felix Martin, the DJ for Hot Chip, by phone last week from England. "Even when we've been lighthearted, we've thought about things in terms of love and relationships. The reason why it might seem more serious now is because we've basically just gotten better."
Like the band's previous record, "One Life Stand" from 2010, "In Our Heads" contains its share of irony-free love songs, including the classic '80s-pop melodrama of "Don't Deny Your Heart" and the soulful "Always Been Your Love." Yet there is also more overt dance fare than on "One Life Stand," such as the house/techno-leaning "Flutes."
From the beginning, Hot Chip was more comfortable as a hybrid. Its founders and principal songwriters and vocalists, Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, have contrasting styles and tastes. The talk-singing Goddard leans toward soul and R&B, while Taylor can trill up to a falsetto and is more club-oriented in his approach to rhythms. But the group members haven't remained hidebound in their tastes and preferences.
"The people we've toured with and collaborated with, like Robert Wyatt, have made a difference," Martin said. "And so have the side projects, which allow us to exercise a different muscle."
Just in the two years between "One Life Stand" and "In Our Heads," Taylor was part of the quartet About Group, which released a record; Goddard became part of an electronic duo known as the 2 Bears, and Martin and fellow Hot Chip member Al Doyle were among the electronic collaborative New Build, which also released a record.
"You come back with new inspiration," Martin continued. "Our core dynamic is designed to be restless, so we can combine new ideas in unexpected ways."
That dynamic was in play during Hot Chip's recently completed tour of Asia, where Martin said the group scaled down the grandeur of its forthcoming single, "How Do You Do?" with more sparse instrumental backing. Other songs will be more up-tempo than their studio versions.
In one crucial aspect, however, Hot Chip operates like a classic pop band. Only about half of the new record will be performed, with the rest of the set devoted to the group's more commercially successful singles, such as "Over and Over," "Boy From School" and "Ready for the Floor."
"That stuff is still so much fun to play," Martin enthused, "because the energy and reaction from the audience [are] brilliant."