Hot Hot Heat: Make Up the Breakdown (Sub Pop)

The songs are bouncy and light; in other words, don’t expect any serious topics to be raised.

The press kit described these five boys from Victoria, B.C. as sounding like a mix between early Cure and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I hear a Cure influence, sure, but also XTC. Maybe it’s the way Steve Bays lets his voice stroll lazily through the notes of these peppy pop songs; the music has an ’80s feel, certainly, but it doesn’t sound dated or derivative. It reminds me more of Radio 4 in that respect: dance music for a new generation.

The keyboards are prominent on these 10 tracks, the album a follow-up to this spring’s Knock Knock Knock EP. The songs are bouncy and light; in other words, don’t expect any serious topics to be raised. The bulk of these songs are about getting into or out of one of two things: town or relationships. It doesn’t matter, though; you’ll be too busy admiring the strength and versatility of Bays’ voice and gleefully singing along to care.

“Get in or Get Out” has a defining keyboard bridge, backed by a crescendo of drums. The next tune, “Bandages,” grabs the listener with its repetition and solid beat. And you absolutely must sing along to “Oh, Goddamnit”; as he relays events and thoughts in rapidfire succession, Bays suddenly remembers one thing he’d forgotten: “Oh, oh Goddamnit, I think I’ve lost you.”

Enjoy Hot Hot Heat for what they are: a fresh take on the jangly keyboards and guitars of your youth. As Bays sings on track nine, “Talk to Me, Dance With Me”: “You are my only girl/but you’re not my owner girl”—something to think about, sure, but more appropriate to dance to.

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