Album of the Week: Hot Chip, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy (Domino) ****

THE seventh album by UK synth-poppers Hot Chip lands against a backdrop of tragedy. Its co-producer, French electro-house wizard Philippe Zdar, was killed in a fall last month.

You hope he was proud of A Bath Full Of Ecstasy; it would have been merited. After rolling back the dynamic, disruptive sound of their early work on more recent efforts, Hot Chip had become a subdued, overly-serious band, but this gleaming album is pure celebration.

Blending virtually every influence a great synth record needs – from Daft Punk to Depeche Mode to Prince to Spiritualized to Kraftwerk to late ‘80s house – it combines a dancefloor-focused palette with poignant lyrics to elevate A Bath Full… above being euphoric but superficial.

What’s most impressive is the way Hot Chip keep up the momentum. Opening tracks Melody Of Love and Spell are so good that you wonder whether the rest will unavoidably sag, but then its midpoint hits you with the one-two punch of Hungry Child and Positive: collectively, eleven-and-a-half minutes of the best, most life-affirming music you’ll have heard in ages.

Optimistic, defiant, sleek, and spectacularly listenable, this isn’t just an excellent album; in a time of negativity, it’s a necessary one.

Mark Stead