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Hot Hot Heat: Elevator

Sire Records, Released April 5, 2005

I figured the only fair way to review the new Hot Hot Heat album was to take it completely out of context for a bit, judging it on aesthetics and artistic merit alone. Meanwhile I'd have to put aside its place as "yet another dance-rock New Wave record"; a trend nearing the edge of tired which the industry continues to cream over.

However, Hot Hot Heat deserve to be listened to with a fresh ear. Long before Franz Ferdinand's meteoric rise and the current wave of buzz for bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and the Futureheads, the Victoria, B.C.-based band was lauded for harkening back to the synthy-'80s with a raucous party album, Make Up the Breakdown (2002, Sub Pop), that got hipsters dancing again. Three years later they're considered trendsetters (or better yet, re-setters) and Elevator is their glossily produced major label debut.

Trendy or not, the songs on Elevator speak for themselves. This is good music, and it's fun listening to lead singer Steve Bays' yelp through the sugary rush of these 14 punchy tunes. The album heads in a guitar-driven-pop-concoction sort of direction, and it doesn't hurt the energy of HHH's New Wave sound. The middle portion is especially strong -- "Jingle Jangle" and "Island of the Honest Man" being the album's immediate standouts. But…does the album have any legacy in it? I doubt it. Will I be listening to this in six months, or even three? Not likely. Nothing on Elevator is nearly as memorable or infectious as, say, Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" or "Dark of the Matinee", so you aren't left absolutely begging for more. Damn that context.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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