Alexis Taylor – Patterns, Brighton – 19th April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor is back with a terrific new record, Beautiful Thing, a record that we described as, “Thrilling, perfectly suitable for the dance-floor, and at another it’s a showcase for Taylor’s profound creativity.” Luckily for us Brighton folk, too, we were also showcased the record at Brighton’s Patterns. However, unfortunately, whether due to the sunny weather outside, an expensive ticket price, or something entirely different, the venue was far from sold-out on the night. Nevertheless, the fervent number that did make it down were exhibited to the remarkability of Beautiful Thing and the talent Taylor and his band are subject to.

“Thanks for sticking with us during a group of songs that I think only my mum and dad have heard at this point” Alexis Taylor stated a few songs into his first show back for his new album tour at Brighton’s Patterns. However, he shouldn’t have been so apologetic as, when he played the first few songs on Beautiful Thing, it became clear to the audience not just how brilliant the songs are but how wonderfully in sequence they are. With the opening beats of ‘Dreaming Another Life’ it’s clear that we’re far removed from Hot Chip’s back-catalogue, but it offered a fantastic starter for a night of experimental and poignant electronica.

Follow-up song and lead single ‘Beautiful Thing’ boasted a crescendo of euphoric sounds and beats; blanches of delicate keyboard, and warm, heartfelt swarms of piano. There’s a feeling of these songs moulding to a live sphere spontaneously and dynamically as they’re played right now, as if the audience are seeing something truly behind the curtain. Much like ‘Dreaming Another Life’, ‘Beautiful Thing’ starts to coagulate, emphatically and smoothly turning on its head as it goes. Taylor creates a sleepy, charming and alluring haze, that utterly enchants the audience.

These are almost songs that were made to be played live, such is the transformation of the songs even halfway through tracks. ‘I Feel You’, in particular, starts as a very tender ballad but, around the halfway mark of the song, mutates into a glistening, atmospheric slow jam. This constant metamorphosing of song brings out the best in Taylor’s three-piece band too. Made up of Leo Taylor (The Invisible, Gramme, Floating Points) and Susumu Mukai (Zongamin, Floating Points, Black Peaches, Vanishing Twin), it not only brings a gravitas to proceedings, but it feels and sounds like seeing something increasingly special. So much so, that during the set a man tried to shake Leo Taylor’s hand, stating that “I just want to say, you’re a really excellent drummer”. Perhaps unneeded but certainly true, Alexis Taylor’s band made his first performance back incredibly impressive.

The set is not without a few dance numbers, either. Particularly with the exuberant ‘Oh Baby’, which is a pop song that borrows from the beautiful melodies of Paul McCartney and the glam-stomping of a Christine McVie Fleetwood Mac track. On the night it’s a wonderful, refreshing foot-stomper that really highlights Taylor’s exceptional talent of making people dance, and his subtle, almost earthy voice that gives the set some much needed edge. Alexis Taylor is an incredibly underrated musician, and his new record and live show is an exceptionally brilliant portrayal of his talent.

Liam McMillen