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Hot Hot Heat

Hot Hot Heat - Elevator
(Sire Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 20, 2005

Review by Andy Argyrakis

When Hot Hot Heat released Make Up the Breakdown in 2002, it was a little late for the garage band movement and a bit early on the new wave revival. Somehow though, they were able to bridge both styles to a degree where it didn't seem like they were behind on the times, but rather a bit before the curve. Following the group's signing with Sire, the foursome hit the road incessantly, touring all over the globe for nearly two years non-stop. The guys' breaks were few and far between, but thankfully come December of 2003, they entered a converted barn studio to begin the creative process behind Elevator.
Though the results are relatively satisfying when put up against many other bands out on the market these days, it doesn't live up to the expectations of the last go around. Of course that feat would be challenging considering Make Up the Breakdown found its way to many critics and fans' year end "best of" lists, but considering the hopeful rise out of the started blocks, Hot Hot Heat has indeed slowed down the pace of its pulse. Some of the most notable instances include the glazed over surf pop of "Goodnight Goodnight" and the recycled new wave sounds throughout "Island of the Honest Man" (think the English Beat meets their offshoot endeavor General Public). On these along with less lively "Jingle Jangle," the band's levels of urgency and passion have dropped several notches from before, while front man Steve Bays is less adventurous with his vocal acrobatics.
Even with these shortcomings, there are glimpses of greatness that come much closer to last go around, most overtly "Ladies and Gentleman" and "Pickin' It Up." The first is loaded with bountiful melodies and boisterous summertime guitars and the latter glistens with grooves, plus hooky hand claps. Bays turns more convulsive in his delivery throughout "Solider In a Box" as his supporters pump up an extra thick layer of musical muscle. It's too bad that they don't lean more towards this direction throughout Elevator, but at least Hot Hot Heat's failure to reach the top floor is still better than many of its copy cat peers still struggling to get on board.

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