Hot Water Music
The New What Next
I have mixed feelings about Hot Water Music’s latest release. It’s much better than their last effort, but it’s not nearly as strong as their first few records on No Idea & Doghouse. I haven’t been blown away by HWM since No Division, so I must admit that I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from The New What Next. This is a sad place for me, too, because there was a time when I swore that Hot Water Music was the greatest band in the history of the world.
“The End of the Line” finds the formerly bearded HWM rockin’ out in rare form. The verse features a swaying, hard-hitting guitar riff and an equally strong, straightforward drum beat. The verse is kind of soft, but is really melodic and descends in melancholy manner. It’s classic HWM (circa No Division), and is one of the best tracks on the album. “There are Already Roses” is the band at the top of their game, both lyrically and melodically. The song rocks hard and has a totally hummable chorus; this song also features the classically apocalyptic line “…hardly awake, so mixed up in everything… there are already roses on our grave.” “Keep it Together” follows suit in the “dark and foreboding, yet melodically hooking” category. They sort of return to their angular days of old here, rather subtly, and use their patented “eee, eee, jud, eee, eee” thing during the chorus. “This Early Grave” is another full-on rocker with unbridled energy and drive.
Conversely, “My Little Monkey Wrench” is a song that shows just how far the mighty beards have fallen over the past four years. It’s watered-down, soft and incredibly dull; these are things that I could not have said about any track from any of their first four albums. The jagged, almost reggae-esque “The Ebb and Flow,” with its listless guitar and bored drums, is also rather disappointing. I guess what I miss most about the “old” Hot Water Music is the growled, gravel-laden vocals of hits like “Turnstile,” “Minnow” and “Alachua.” The fire of old doesn’t seem to burn like it once did. I might be asking too much of these guys, as it’s hard to keep the flame of youth ablaze forever. I don’t know, I guess I just can’t get into The New What Next in the same way that I can get into Forever and Counting.