2003 was great, wasn’t it? Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture, um… the Iraq War? Anyway, there’s little that screams 2003 more than Hot Hot Heat’s single ‘Bandages’, a series of frenetic yelps set to a punk-funk soundtrack that was all the rage at the time. It even became a Top 30 single.
The trouble is, some bands are so inextricably linked to a time or place, that they become trapped. A new Hot Hot Heat album in 2016 is as welcome and necessary as new material by !!!, Radio 4 or CSS. They were part of a scene, and all those scene kids are now adults, who have grown up and moved on.
The Canadian quartet have now decided to call it a day, and this self-titled album — the band’s fifth full-length — will be their last. Sadly, it’s out with a whimper rather than a bang. It’s as if they realise the elastic basslines and disco-influenced drums are passé so they’re trying to distance themselves, yet they can’t quite bring themselves to completely phase it out. What you’re left with is a competent indie-rock record that veers, often inexplicably, back into territory left unmined by most artists for over a decade.
Really though, Hot Hot Heat isn’t a fitting enough epitaph for a band that used to burn so bright. They may have peaked early but when they were getting column inches, they were a thrilling proposition. This album demonstrates that the desire disappeared long ago and that they were simply prolonging their career to delay the inevitable. For Hot Hot Heat, the fire has definitely gone out.
Words: Joe Rivers
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