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Hot Hot Heat

by Philip Brasor

Since last we saw Hot Hot Heat at Summer Sonic in 2003, the Victoria, British Columbia, band lost their invaluable guitarist Dante Decaro and released a major label album, “Elevator” (Sire-London/Rhino), that has incurred the unallayed derision of the indie-rock cognoscenti. For sure, “Elevator” doesn’t reach the high points of the band’s previous effort, the manically marvelous Sub Pop release “Make up the Breakdown,” but one always needs some perspective when dealing with pop music, especially pop music that is obviously intended for mass consumption rather than rarefied tastes. And whatever you want to say about “Elevator,” it’s much better than that Bravery album.

The only real disappointment is that the record doesn’t begin to convey HHH’s energy in concert. With smokin’ Steve Bays banging away on his keyboards and wailing his skinny little self silly, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the sheer emotionalism of HHH’s dance-ready new wave, which patches Talking Heads’ songcraft into the woolly wildness of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Both Weezer fans and wallflowers are as defenseless in the face of Bays’ artless come-ons as the indie girls who worship the linoleum his sweat drips on. It’s the sound of white boys losing it, but with a rhythm section that knows how to play Latin and reggae, the songs never spin totally out of control even as Bays himself goes into orbit. Prepare for liftoff.