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Hot Hot Heat: Hot Hot Heat *

Album Notes

When a band names an album after itself, it usually implies a definitive statement; in Hot Hot Heat's case, it's also a final one. They use this opportunity to showcase what they excelled at for over 15 years: piling as many melodies and hooks into their songs as possible. Their overwhelming tunefulness earned them immediate attention for their debut, Make Up the Breakdown, and "Sad Sad Situation," "Modern Mind," and "Mayor of the City" could have easily appeared on that album. Elsewhere, Hot Hot Heat mixes their early exuberance with the more polished, synth-heavy sound of their later albums -- as well as Steve Bays' other projects Mounties and Fur Trade -- on songs such as the glossy "Magnitude." As on Future Breeds, Hot Hot Heat balance these sounds so well partly because they worked in their own studio with longtime producer Ryan Dahle (who also works with Bays in Mounties). This sense of family, coupled with the band's self-aware lyrics, makes Hot Hot Heat some of the band's most poignant music. They hold on to youthful dreams and ideals on "Kid Who Stays in the Picture," reflect on the good and the bad on "Alaskan Midnight Sun," and meditate on separation on "Pulling Levers." The album closes with "The Memory's Here," a droning, layered track that's one of the more unusual songs to appear on any of the band's albums, but is just as bittersweet as the rest of the rest of the songs here. With just the right mix of nostalgia and looking forward to what's next, Hot Hot Heat puts a neat bow on the band's career. ~ Heather Phares


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