“All the people I love are drunk.”
Hot Chip know their way around the tragicomic, which is why “Crap Kraft Dinner” is a different kind of loser’s anthem.
The song doesn’t operate in terms of verse-chorus-verse-chorus, and if it did, it wouldn’t work. The first bit is all purported scene-setting, making the listener believe it’s the guy who’s been dumped. Over melancholy FM bells and the occasional, soothing throb of bass, Alexis Taylor sounds like a down-and-out, glued to the bar stool.
“All you can hear is my refusal,
‘Cos I haven’t got the time for a jerk-off loser.”
But then, as the song enters its second act, the tempo steps up a gear. A lonely, forlorn strum of guitar is another faux amis before the song’s true intentions are laid bare. The 808 starts hitting on the off-beat, second vocalist Joe Goddard copies Taylor’s lyrics but an octave lower, and we realise that it’s the girl, previously the recipient of the titular “crap Kraft dinner”, who’s been dumped. Before you know it, with an ironic smirk, a saxophone straight out of “Careless Whisper” enters the scene, presaging the song’s final section, wherein competing synth lines rotate and murmur over a tricksier beat. Now he’s not so much singing about leaving his girl, as rubbing salt in her wounds, pretending he’s upset and heartbroken in spite of it being his decision. There’s “no more space or time / For a last supper”—though, given his previously explicated culinary skills, maybe that’s no bad thing.
The double irony is, of course, that Hot Chip know they’re geeks, and know that they’re never really the ones doing the dumping, or the salt-rubbing, or the pimping of one’s ride. After all, in another Coming On Strong cut, “Playboy”, Goddard describes “Drivin’ in my Peugeot / 20-inch rims with the chrome now / Blazin’ out Yo La Tengo”, like a particularly sad-sack gangsta from Putney.