Hot Hot Heat - Hot Hot Heat - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Hot Hot Heat - Hot Hot Heat

by James Weiskittel Rating:3 Release Date:2016-06-24

While it’s difficult to not view statements of finality with a healthy dose of cynicism, in the case of the Hot Hot Heat’s soon to be released final album, a suspension of disbelief may be warranted.  After jumping out of the gate some fifteen years ago with their smash debut Make Up the Breakdown, the Canadian-bred Hot Hot Heat coasted upon the wave of a Millennial Indie-rock revival of sorts (that which they admittedly helped create).  Unfortunately, the band's momentum soon waned when guitarist/songwriter Dante DeCarlo decided to leave the band following the completion of 2005’s Elevator.

While the releases that followed were admirable attempts towards pushing the band and their sound forward, the writing was clearly on the wall (in more ways than one) as the band has been all but inactive since 2010’s Future Breed’s.  While the hiatus seemed to spell out the end, the band maintained a sparse presence via social media, eventually announcing last fall that the soon to be released self-titled affair would indeed be their swan song.

One of the first things that becomes apparent when listening to Hot Hot Heat is that pretty much every song here will remind listeners of the band’s previous hits like “Bandages” or “Middle of Nowhere”.  The album opens with “Kid Who Stays In the Picture”, a somber, mid-tempo ‘what-could-have-been’ rumination that singer Steve Bays apparently wrote for a friend, but which could easily be imagined to be about the band itself.  

Elsewhere, songs like “Pulling Levers”, “Magnitude”, and “Sad Sad Situation” further display the band’s devotion to their own sound, easily fitting in on either of the band’s first two albums.  In fact, this ‘paint-by-numbers’ approach is so strong that I fear this album could have just as easily been released as a collection of B-sides from that period and nobody would have known the difference.  While the key ingredients are all still in place (the look, the sound, the band, etc..), these songs sadly just don’t stand on their own.  When you couple the underwhelming lack of the band having anything new to say with the amount of time they have been away, it’s hard not to wonder “why even bother?”

While it was apparently recorded over the course of three-plus years, Hot Hot Heat does at least succeed in sounding somewhat cohesive.  As a parting gift to fans who have hung in there, the album is an adequate reprisal of band’s heyday.  But for everyone else, I would suggest forgoing the 2001-by-way-of-2016 nostalgia trip that is Hot Hot Heat and check out their debut instead.


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