It’s become rather obvious that indie rock has taken over as the next logical progression in the popular music scene. Festival shows like Coachella have risen up from the extremely unlikely (who would have thought college kids would pay 75 dollars to stand in the desert sun) to the marginally profitable. It seems that bands that wish to make danceable art-punk music that harkens back to the big hair days of the ’80s are a dime a dozen.
It’s tough, then, to look at Hot Hot Heat with new eyes. These Canadian hipsters are rare among the new indie rock scene – a band that has had a chance to make a second album after an acclaimed first album – and they have their work cut out for them. One remembers the Strokes and their follow-up to the critical darling Is This It. While not a bad album, many critics panned it for being too similar to the band’s debut.
The same label could perhaps be applied to Hot Hot Heat’s Elevator. While still highly energetic and very danceable, it still feels like it’s something that we’ve heard before. There are the anomalies, the sort of reaching above the fray to make something that is truly remarkable and spectacular. On “You Owe Me an IOU,” Hot Hot Heat disjoints its listeners’ sense of organization by dallying in phrases like, “And the only thing constant was the constant reminder he’d never change.” “Middle of Nowhere” mixes a tale of a recent heartbreak with a jingly piano line, resulting in a breakup song that makes you want to mourn and dance simultaneously. The song “Dirty Mouth,” while technically not talking about anything dirty, is backed by pounding drums and chunky guitar licks that make you think it is. However, the overall product suffers from a feeling of repetition; it is hard to tell where one song ends and the other begins. This isn’t to say that it’s terrible, it’s just not the great product it probably should be. Hot Hot Heat fails to use Elevator to rise above the competition, falling short of breaking free from the indie-clone stereotype.
[Brad Vargyas can sit on it and rotate]