About Group - Start & Complete
The concept of About Group is an interesting one indeed. Comprising of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, acclaimed drummer Charles Hayward of This Heat, Spiritualized guitarist John Coxon and Pat Thomas, they are probably the last group of people you’d think would come together. Starting off as a vehicle for more improvised compositions, they’ve taken a more song-oriented direction with Start & Complete and perhaps left behind what made the group such an exciting proposition in the first place.
With Alexis Taylor having written the bare bones for the majority of the songs, it’s hard not to see his overriding influence on the album. From the opening tracks of ‘Don’t Worry’ and ‘With Each New Day’, the more plaintive side of Hot Chip seeps through, but with some more tasteful and jazz flecked synth and percussion work taking place. The entire album has a downbeat mood running throughout, and the bluesy swagger of ‘Lay Me Down’ stands out as a highlight with layered vocals, sporadic bursts of electronics and dreamy guitars.
Unfortunately it’s not long after that track that things start to get a little samey, stuck in the same old tempos and with not much differentiation between tracks you start to wonder when it’s going to end. One highlight does come later in the form of eleven-minute single ‘You’re No Good’, a track which sees each of the musicians allowed to stretch themselves, particularly Charles Hayward whose percussive flourishes demonstrate why he was such a good choice for this project. It’s this track which embodies the improvisational ethos that About Group was formed on; the rest of the album is disappointingly pedestrian. Mark this one down as a missed opportunity.