Hot Hot Heat drops solid album

Front man and keyboardist Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, referred to the bands previous effort, Elevator, as "an obnoxious pop record." The band’s new album, Happiness Ltd., produced by hit-makers Butch Walker (Fall Out Boy, The Donnas) and Rob Cavallo (Green Day) picks up where Elevator left off.

The album opens with the title track, "Happiness LTD." The lyrics, "Happiness is limited but misery has no end/ Give us somewhere we can go instead of one more dead end," shows that the energetic band from Vancouver may have a dark side as well.

"The album has its fair share of seedy club songs, but they are dirtier and darker," Bays said in a release.

The band still knows how to craft a pop song, as the first single, "Let Me In," captures the band’s ability to blend its synth-rock with pure pop sensibility. "Harmonicas ‘ Tambourines" is the strongest track on the record and an obvious choice for the second single. It opens with a rhythmic drum beat followed by a guitar riff reminiscent of The Cure (one of Hot Hot Heat’s biggest influences) and keyboards that that would have the most jaded indie-rock kid wanting to shake their shaggy hair and too tight jeans all over the dance floor.

"My Best Fiend" is another dance-flavored track, but at the same time it rocks harder than any other song on Happiness Ltd. Simple, straight-forward guitar riffs mix with a chorus full of plenty of "oh, oh, ohs" and "whoa-ohs" along with the lyrics "Got a shotgun by my side/You can make her laugh but can’t make her cry."

Slower songs such as "Outta Heart" and "Good Day to Die" continue to tell the tale of a broken heart but come off as contrived and as though the band is trying too hard to make "big" sounding music. "So So Cold" is a mid-tempo gem that seems like it came straight out of the 1980s. The closing track, "Waiting for Nothing," is a somber sleeper which seems to be the norm nowadays for bands attempting sad ballads.

Happiness Ltd. is not a concept album, but the songs all follow the lyrical theme of a person who is on the verge of a broken heart.

"We wanted a heavy, big, decadent, lush record that told a story and had an arc more like a film than a rock record," Bays said in a release.

Hot Hot Heat certainly tells a story and has made another solid record, but they still have a long way to go to make a "big, decadent, lush record" like The Cure or U2 is capable of producing.

Hot Hot Heat will be playing Oct. 22 at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres St.

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