Hot Hot Heat has managed to weave in and out of the limelight in the last few years. Often compared to the Cure, they are able to hold onto the fringes of the mainstream thanks to the "new" new wave and dance rock movements. The single that broke them to the mainstream was the catchy yet repetitive "Bandages," which has a chorus that boasts "bandages on my legs and my arms from you/bandages, bandages, bandages/up and down my legs, my arms from you/bandages, bandages, bandages!" In true Hot Hot Heat fashion their latest single "Goodnight Goodnight," also repetitive, is a relative hit placing them back into position for adulation from the press.
They take their snarky attitudes from the stage to the studio on Elevator, their first album on a major record label. The album is quite abrasive as a result of the lyrical content; every track on the album either desecrates others or themselves-mostly others. With witty and biting lyrics accompanied by mocking instruments, it appears there is no room for laughter or an ego. The bouncy beats and the well-acclimated tempo, however, suggest otherwise.
Charming hooks and infectious beats dominate the most vindictive tracks. Roughly produced tracks "Ladies and Gentlemen" and "Soldier in a Box" both express socially unacceptable maliciousness in verses that would make Mean Girls proud. Who knew that talking behind someone's back could become an art? A perverse art. Lyrics parallel one another with a common theme of oblivious social isolation, whether it results from an invisible blockade or physical walls, as guitars chop away and drums crash into chaotic bliss. In "Goodnight Goodnight" vocalist Steve Bays tells off, in blistering verse, a soon to be ex-girlfriend with an extremely infectious chorus. Hot Hot Heat's insensitivity garners pity for the characters they victimize in their songs, but instead of penning letters of disgust, people will nod along to the beats they produce for the public.
There is another side of Hot Hot Heat that would suggest that they are merely insecure bullies that toss off flaws on others to cover up their lack of self-assurance. The lyrics in "Jingle Jangle" channel a more modern Arthur Miller in his ideas of the failure of the American Dream in his infamous play Death of a Salesman. Pulling existential philosophy from a romantic melody, they hint a vulnerable desperation that is not apparent in most of the songs. In contrast, the upbeat "Pickin' it Up" hits hard on a Cars comparison in an often loose comparison. From the very way Bays utters incomprehensible lyrics to the racy keys spell out a copyright infringement.
Elevator is filled with tunes that rarely surpass the three minute mark. The songs quickly come and go, but leave the listener humming the melody after the music has stopped. Teetering between overt confidence and failing insecurity, Hot Hot Heat maintain a constant flow of catching pop songwriting that will hopefully keep them in the limelight a little longer than in the past.
7.8 / 10
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