Okay, I know I always get
on my high horse and complain when punk bands think it is a sell-out to attach a
tune to their songs — as if the fact that a listener can enjoy the melody takes
away from the importance of what the band is saying.
Make Up the Breakdown is one of the rare punk
albums you will listen to over and over just for pleasure. So, I have to give
props when a band gets it right... thought provoking lyrics and music that can
actually take up residency in the head. Canadian band Hot Hot Heat
recognize this need and
obviously wear their CBGBs influences on their sleeves, but I can think of worse
things than reminding people of Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads and the
"Oh Goddamnit" couples truly funny lyrics with giddy pop-punk
like the Offspring back in the Epitaph years.
"Naked In the City Again" has a Brit-pop brattiness. "No, Not Now" is a
joyous XTC-pastiche that will resonate in your brain for hours after hearing it.
"Talk To Me, Dance With Me" races an elastically simple tune (and what I believe
are sound effects from the old video game Galaga) to an swirling
"This Town" could be the Clash circa Sandinista, while
"Get In or Get Out" feels like Elvis (Costello, not Presley) circa Armed
Forces. "Aveda" has a sweet organ line pumping life into a sugary
sweet love shoutout.
As rock's arbiters of taste wonder which way the
genre is going, now that rap-rock is losing speed, they could do a hell of a lot
worse than looking in the direction of Hot Hot Heat. (4/03)