Since ‘remix’ has become a household word, there’s been a lot of hemming and hawing about the ethics of the form. The DJs in question have a certain double-edged responsibility to their source materials: a remix is supposed to work a fundamental change without sacrificing the integrity of the original—whatever that means. We Have Remixes, an EP which gathers versions by Todd Edwards, Hot City, Caribou, and Osborne of songs from Hot Chip’s newest album One Life Stand, proves that integrity is not always a revitalizing priority. The strongest mixes here are the ones that dice or mash Hot Chip’s electro-ballads into something with a bit more flair, and each remix, whatever its take, is indelibly stamped with the signature of the DJ responsible.
Todd Edwards embellishes “Hand Me Down Your Love” with a lyrical synth line and streamlines the backbeat into perfect wallpaper for the kind of ear candy he so loves. Known for his work with vocal samples, Edwards gives Alex Taylor’s falsetto an intricate, overlapping treatment that blends seamlessly into the mix’s glittering fabric. All the versions on this EP are longer than the original, and this one suffers for it, making what could be four minutes of garage-for-thought into six and a half minutes of bite-sized, easy-digest pieces.
“We Have Love” is the pleasant surprise, a lively party-boy version from Hot City that essentially abandons the melodrama of the original for a sizzling snippet-driven bounce. The first play smacks of novelty and the kind of free interpretive license that made all those remix commandments necessary in the first place, but with time the generic pump-up solidifies into an entity all of its own.
Characteristically, Dan Snaith of Caribou is the only one on the EP to do any real magic with his song’s (“Brothers”) thematic content, making judicious omissions until the following line stands starkly out from the original lyrics: “Brothers / Will watch over me.” The track has enough personality for an entire EP, with a frenetic, soft-spoken bassline and hushed, intimate effects that crescendo into a rushing white wash of synths. The fraternal schmaltz of the original is transformed into a mystical, very much psychedelic declaration of feeling.
“Take It In” is the most disappointing of the four. Osborne takes what may be the best song on the new album and makes a misguided attempt to beat the group at their own game. The result is undeniably very pretty, and the first two minutes or so are sublime, but the all-the-white-keys gush of the song’s chorus can only take so much amplification before it becomes an internal cliché, and, at seven minutes, this last track is the most vulnerable to overextension.
We Have Remixes is a grab-bag of talented remixers, artists that Hot Chip describe as “some of our favorite producers, people that we have been following for years” on their website. Some of the songs make you play the original album again, and some make you forget about the album altogether. Each is worth a listen for its own reasons. Whatever your point of view on remix etiquette, the DJ game is all about individuality, and, for better or for worse, there’s plenty of that to be had here.