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It is impossible to avoid the high expectations that come with a solo record from the frontman of a band as important as Hot Chip. Their brand of skittering bleeps and blips is effectively the noughties indie-pop scene embodied, with every album possessing such a solid foundation in danceable grooves that their music appeals to both the chart-buyers and the blogosphere muso's. Alexis Taylor's distinctive croon is always going to be closely related to these characteristics, making the burden of pressure on his shoulders a heavy one, despite proving his versatility as a musician in his involvement with the jazz-improv About Group. Unfortunately, the weight of expectation largely proves too much to handle for Taylor, with Await Barbarian's lacking the consistency and ingenuity that made previous projects so successful.

Lack of coherence across the length of the record is one if its main pitfalls. There doesn't appear to be any overarching meaning behind Await Barbarians, but instead a collection of songs that aren't necessarily the best of neighbours. While 'Immune System' sees Taylor struggling with the apparent inefficiencies of his white blood cells (the chances are that there is some metaphor involved, albeit it discreetly hidden), while the following 'Dolly and Porter' contemplates heartbreak. The lack of continuity in both sound and lyrical content leaves a feeling that things are out of place, like having your ice cream as a starter before tucking into your main course.

With some notable exceptions, Await Barbarians feels like the experimentation that we know Taylor can succeed at has gone a bit off course and become a self-indulgent meander into the writer's own mind. 'Closer to the Elderly' is an honest contemplation of attempting to deal with the inevitability of getting old, but odd, bubbling synths provide the only instrumentation and not an appropriate one at that. The result is a song that gives the impression of an unimportant musing rather than a genuine thought process.

There are exceptions, however. 'Without A Crutch' has two versions on the album, both of which are stunning. They see Taylor at his most honest, yearning for some sort of peace of mind within a relationship. Although melancholic, both versions could quite easily be Hot Chip numbers had they been sped up and a few keyboards added. One or two additional flashes of brilliance fail to act as saving graces, however, leaving Await Barbarians a disappointing effort from one of modern pop's mavericks.

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