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Lukewarm effort from
Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd.
Review by Tony BonyataFor a band with such a smoking name, Hot Hot Heat's fifth full-length release, Happiness Ltd., certainly seems to lack any true spark. While the eleven tracks featured are often filled with a high level of energy, they also lack any of the originality and passion witnessed on their previous efforts.
Whereas their revisiting of quirky '80s new wave music once seemed refreshing and even downright cute, now this Canadian quartet has reduced their simple sophomoric spasms into a more slickly produced package geared straight for radio, complete with schmaltzy power ballads ("Outta Heart," "So So Cold" and "Waiting For Nothing") and forgettable pop ditties ("Let Me In" "Harmonicas & Tambourines").
Singer Steve Bays once sounded like he might actually be a new voice in indie rock world, but here he looses his own identity as he croons his way through tunes like "Good Day To Die," "Give Up?" and "Conversation" with all of the deadpan nonchalance of The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, only without the whipsmart backing band.
The album isn't a total flash-in-the-pan as the spunky track "5 Times Out of 100" jerks and convulses in all the right ways, while "My Best Fiend" successfully reaches back into their new wave bag of tricks with its punchy rhythm section, guttural harmonies and a rather dated yet still pleasing synth line. These highlights are, unfortunately, too few and far between, and ultimately leave more of a lukewarm sensation than starting any real fire.
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