Hot Hot Heat: Dustin Hawthorne, Steve Bays, Paul Hawley, Dante DeCaro.
OK, name a band of Canadians with ska/punk/New Wave overtones, snappy lyrics and a catchy way with a tune. If you were thinking Barenaked Ladies, think again--Hot Hot Heat are all of the above, but with the added advantage of Steve Bays's patented Ray Davies-in-a-blender hiccupped vocals and a musical edge given extra depth by producer Jack Endino's nuanced production. There are echoes of '80s skinny-tie pop here, to be sure, but the combination of quirkiness, energy, and wit most obviously recalls British new wavers XTC and their particular brand of multi-layered new wave/art-rock.
MAKE UP THE BREAKDOWN, despite being Hot Hot Heat's first full-length album, is a bright, assured blast of fresh air that's at its dayglo best on tracks such as the tricky pop of "Naked in the City Again" and the punky "Bandages." But the strong hint that Hot Hot Heat have more to offer than your everyday retro-wavers is contained in the wiry guitar sounds of "Save Us S.O.S." and the atmospheric closer "Cairo," as well as in the off-kilter rhythms and smart, wry lyrics that pop up throughout.
Rolling Stone (12/12/02, p.93) - "...Arresting, cheery three-minute musical sermons in mod, ska, punk and synth..."
Spin (12/01/02, p.138) - 8 out of 10 - "...One long indie-new-wave rave-up, all spring-loaded guitars, stabbing organs, and footloose drums..."
Q (01/01/04, p.76) - Ranked #40 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums of 2003" - "[J]erky rhythms, helmet-shaped haircuts and very catchy tunes..."
Magnet (1/03, p.87) - "...[The band] has shed its cocoon and found its wings..."
Mojo (Publisher) (4/03, p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...Hot Hot Heat proffer an exotic fusion that is peculiar to themselves....Breathlessly enjoyable..."