Review: New Build 'Pour It On' playback
by Guy Hornsby
Record launches tend to be unpredictable affairs at the best of times. In fact albums, per-se, aren't what they used to be, thanks to digital music's irreversible march. In the case of New Build - Hot Chip alumni Al Doyle and Felix Martin, along with sometime band engineer Tom Hopkins - the launch is every bit as anachronistic as their own take on modern electronic pop music. The duo's sophomore album - Pour It On - surfaced last week on Rob Da Bank's Sunday Best, having been preceded by two singles - 'Look In Vain' and 'Sunlight' , the result of months of session work in their own East London-based Lanark Studios. And while their own music was made in an unprepossessing brick warehouse building near Brick Lane, the play-through's slick surroundings of the South Place Hotel in Moorgate seems at odds with the album's quasi-political themes and eno-influenced sonic layers.
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Nevertheless, it's a friendly and cosy affair, with the occasional wrong-turned suit being politely turned away, and a crowd with a mixed sprinkling of Dalston musos, smartly turned out West Londoners and fans and industry types mingling with laid-back midweek ease. After a brief and charming intro, Doyle retreats to munch an on-the-hoof dinner - New Build are currently gigging and have only recently arrived in London fuzzy-headed from their Glasgow date - while the sounds of Sunlight percolate the room. The album itself is a lovely thing, flitting between shimmering atmospherics (Sunlight), tub-thumping squelching folk-stomp (A Different Kind), mournful synth-pop (Weightless) and Eno-tinged synth futurism (Strange Network). Like New Build, it's a more erudite direction than Hot Chip's own more club-angled work. And as a follow-up to the well-recieved 'Everything Was Lived And Lost' it's a rewarding evolution, and the basis for an ongoing UK tour.
The two main members - Doyle and Martin - have known each other since university days, and when the playback is over, and the crowd has taken in an ethereal live show from Veera Sofia, they retire to the rooftop bar to spin some records and put the 'party' more earnestly into launch party. By this time, by dint of a modicum of free alcohol for the lucky attendees, things are looser-limbed, and the pair set about dropping a selection of unselfconsciously danceable records, from Mark E's 'RnB Drunkie' to disco cuts and synth-driven electronica. In fact, as if to row back against the often misconstrued uber-geek image of the Hot Chip collective, Doyle and Martin prove ebullient hosts and DJs, and soon the room is throwing themselves around with a very un-Wednesday like gusto. Only technical gremlins halt proceedings early, but by then it's a time of night that's already threatening Thursday's productivity, and New Build's intra-tour wind down. So much for a