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SINGLE REVIEW: JOE GODDARD & HAYDEN THORPE – ‘UNKNOWN SONG’ (DOMINO)

Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and former Wild Beasts frontman Hayden Thorpe team up for a surprise single release – and it’s an absolute dancefloor delight **** Four stars

It’s one thing to admire someone from afar – but how many of us ever act upon that admiration and actually reach out? Thankfully, the British musicians Joe Goddard and Hayden Thorpe are not the sort of men who are backwards at coming forwards. Founder members of two of Britain’s most acclaimed and inventive bands of recent years – Goddard for Hot Chip, and the much-missed Wild Beasts for Thorpe – the two musicians have been huge admirers of each other’s work for the past decade. In early 2020, however, the duo finally decided to act upon that admiration and – hurrah! – discuss making music together. Released earlier today (May 8th) on Domino Recordings, the first Goddard and Thorpe collaboration, we’re pleased to report, firmly lives up to their collective reputations. An uplifting, heavenly electro-pop banger, ‘Unknown Song’ is a glorious paean to the dancefloor – a track which, reflecting the current lockdown situation, both celebrates and anticipates those (much-missed) moments of shared dancefloor euphoria.

     Explaining the song, Thorpe says: “The lockdown has really made it apparent how music allows us to feel a synchronicity with our fellow beings. In the absence of touch, music is that sensual meeting point.”    

     ‘Sensual’ seems a perfect description for ‘Unknown Song’. Built around Hayden Thorpe’s distinctive and beautiful vocal, it’s a silky, summery, 80s-tinged pop delight, owing as much to Pet Shop Boys as it does to Prince. As you’d expect of Hot Chip’s Goddard – who originated the track, before sending it over to Thorpe – there’s an effortless grasp of pop dynamics here; all gentle, shimmering verses working their way towards an epic chorus that manages to be both uplifting and melancholic. The song’s lyrics, meanwhile, provide what could be a smart metaphor for their musical modus operandi (‘Got no method, but I’ve killer intuition‘).

Perhaps the best thing we can say about this track is that it could easily take pride of place on Wild Beasts’ or Hot Chip’s best albums. We’re not sure if ‘Unknown Song’ is a one-off, or whether the duo have plans to release more material – fingers crossed, though, it’s the latter option.

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