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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hot Hot Heat gets hotter

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

After two long years of waiting, fans of Canadian indie rock band Hot Hot Heat finally received that which they have so desired – the band's fourth album, Happiness Ltd, which dropped on September 11.

The quartet has been hard at work on the album for the past two years, writing it whilst embarking on various world-wide tours.

“We wanted this record to be written on the road, partly so the influences would be more varied, but also so we could test out the songs live before we recorded them,” front man Steve Bays told Spin magazine in May 2007. “We wrote music everywhere – Spain, Japan, Australia, the U.K. – so each song has a different mood.”

Happiness Ltd. is a big step forward for the band. It's the first Hot Hot Heat album for their new guitarist, Luke Paquin, who joined the band just two years ago. He achieved the normally unmanageable feat of joining a band without changing the feel of its music. The track listing of Happiness Ltd. sports songs that cover various Hot Hot Heat sounds from their pop/dance tracks to their more serious and even acoustic ones.

“It's difficult to describe its overall musical direction, but if I had to choose two adjectives I'd go with 'big' and 'aggressive,'” Bays said. “As a band, we got most excited about the over-the-top, epic-sounding songs, so we kept pushing the tracks that way. The album has its fair share of seedy club songs, but they are dirtier and darker.”

I could not have said it any better myself. The album takes some getting used to, especially for those who loved the sounds of the band's most popular albums Make up the Breakdown and Elevator. Hot Hot Heat purposefully juxtaposes the “dirtier and darker” songs with their more characteristic tunes like “5 Times out of 100” (which was originally released on the 2002 EP Knock Knock Knock).

I was most surprised by the sudden appearance of acoustic versions of “Give Up?,” “My Best Fiend,” and “When It All Comes Down.” I would never have expected such an upbeat and in-your-face indie pop band to slow down long enough to release these versions.

It's lucky for us that they did. These songs add so much to the album- they are different from their counterparts on the album that sometimes it is difficult to remember that the non-acoustic versions even exist. The songs sound like they are meant to be heard both acoustically as well as post-production which I think reveals a lot about Hot Hot Heat's staying power. It is no easy feat to create such versatile music.

Thus, Happiness Ltd. is a success. The band has continued to move forward while still maintaining that Hot Hot Heat-y feel that we love so much. Another thing to love is quickly approaching appearance in Boston! They will be performing on October 11 at 9pm at the Paradise Rock Club which is located near Northeastern. So what better way is there to celebrate the one-month anniversary of the release of the band's fourth album? Hot Hot Heat is amazing live and I would recommend anyone with a love or even a general liking of their music to go to the show. Look for me, I know I'll be there.