Hot Hot Heat

Hot Hot Heat

Make Up the Breakdown

Sub Pop

I’ve come to recognize a law of diminishing returns acting pretty strongly when it comes to certain records and my reviewing instincts. A good record makes me want to think of nice things. A great record can make me actually write them down, sometimes right away. But every once in a while there’s something so overwhelmingly hypnotic that I set aside all other things and just listen. And listen. And draw a blank at what to say.

Let me tell you, I’ve been listening to Make Up the Breakdown for a while. After enthusing like a giddy schoolgirl over Hot Hot Heat’s Knock Knock Knock EP, I had qualms about whether this follow-up could live up to that promise — and an EP is always a promise. With this preamble complete, I can say, yes they do.

The formula for the band dates back to the early ’80s — a punky mix of new wave and rock, guitars, drums, bass and electric piano or organ all doing something interesting while a distinctive vocalist rips his heart out and gives you a personalized anatomy lesson. Steve Bays’ anguished tone seems to draw comparisons to The Cure a lot, but that’s because they’re deserved. The rest of the band is perplexingly creative, spinning out beautifully ornate arrangements that sacrifice nothing in catchiness. Like The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency and I, this seems to glide from one high-energy song to another, each one unique and fascinating by itself, echoing the sparse tones of The Police here and there, or INXS’s Kick-era attention to beat (“Talk To Me, Dance With Me”) in other places. The closing “In Cairo” is clearly a tribute to The Cure, with its moody pianos and dramatic choruses, not to mention song title. On the flip side, “This Town” slips from bounce to sprint seamlessly, alternating between three completely different sections, peppy, edgy, and balls-out, but somehow fitting it all together.

But for all the hodge-podge of pieces and sounds-likes, the band is unified in one thing — they reach out and shake you, and don’t let go until you’ve woken up. This is one of those records I’ll be listening to time and time again, and speaking as a poor critic who is inundated with the Next Big Thing on a weekly basis, I hope that means something to you.

Sub Pop: http://www.subpop.com • Hot Hot Heat: http://www.hothotheat.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Sweet Crude
    Sweet Crude

    Sweet Crude brought a bit of New Orleans to Tampa. Bob Pomeroy catches up with the group.

  • Butch Walker
    Butch Walker

    Stay Gold (Dangerbird Records). Review by Andrew Ellis.

  • Belly
    Belly

    Belly brought lot of grit and a touch of grace to the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.

  • Pickathon 2016
    Pickathon 2016

    Pendarvis Farms transforms for three extraordinary days into the fun and psychedelic fest of your wildest indie music loving dreams, Pickathon. Alexa Harris was there to experience the joys of farm life for the weekend.

  • Money Chicha
    Money Chicha

    Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul). Review by James Mann.

  • Micronotz reissues
    Micronotz reissues

    Mortal Micronotz, Smash, Live, The Beast that Devoured Itself, 40 Fingers (Bar/None). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Big Eyes
    Big Eyes

    Stake My Claim (Don Giovanni Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Various Artists
    Various Artists

    Money Maker (Studio One). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Pawns
    Pawns

    A triple bill of underground Goth, led by NYC’s Pawns, transforms Uncle Lou’s into a time machine. Jen Cray did not wear eye makeup, but she did wear a black shirt to the show.

  • Bossacucanova
    Bossacucanova

    The Best of Bossacucanova (Six Degrees Records). Review by James Mann.

From the Archives