Red Hot Valentines - Summer Fling (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Red Hot Valentines

Red Hot Valentines: Summer Fling

Summer Fling (2003)

Polyvinyl


3.5
The ultra-poppy synth fiends from Illinois are back with their second full length, their first with label support, and consequently this album is their best sounding yet. The keys are better than ever with cool effects and simple catchy lines, and the vocals will stick in your head and you can sing ...

The ultra-poppy synth fiends from Illinois are back with their second full length, their first with label support, and consequently this album is their best sounding yet. The keys are better than ever with cool effects and simple catchy lines, and the vocals will stick in your head and you can sing along almost instantly. This is what we know these hard working boys for, but there are some aspects of this new album that are a bit of a let down.

The album starts off strong with "Wait for Summer," with its traditional RHV head-bobbin' tempo and a great pre-chorus section that builds up into a very singable chorus. "This Heart of Mine" is another winner, with its intro of stop-and-start guitars with a "doot doot" (Reggie anyone?) keyboard part to fill in the gaps.

However, the middle of the album has a bit of filler, and I was disappointed to find that this album is not as solid throughout as their self-titled full length which contained so many killer tracks like "I'm Sorry," "Everything's Fine," "Angela" and "Linger Longer." "Summer Fling" falls short a bit in the middle with forgettable tracks like "Pocket Full of Secrets" that has mediocre melodies throughout and not much in the way of synth, and "Wishful Thinking," which has a sweet chorus, but a remainder that doesn't match up. The biggest blunder on the album is "I Want To," an acoustic track. They tried this kind of thing on their previous full length- it didn't work then and it doesn't work now. I know they are trying to switch things up, but if they want a ballad it doesn't mean they have to leave the electric guitars and keys behind, after all those are the reasons people listen to this band. But mostly, this song is just weak, and the singer's voice can be a bit irritating when it is so exposed.

The album picks up again at the end with "Don't Bother" a track that I dug off of the "Calling Off Today" EP, but my favorite two tracks are the last two. "All You Get" is a bit down-tempo for the band, but they make it work with a breakdown-style chorus with sing along vocals of "You want it / you got it / but that's all you get," some simple lyrics characteristic of these guys. The closer "One Last Kiss" rules, with its plethora of synthesizer sounds courtesy of still-newbie Tyson. The track has a darker sound to it, and yet a catchy chorus, ending the disc strong.

As for the overall sound of the album, it is their best yet but I have a few problems with it. The guitars are not the focus on RHV's sound, but I feel they could be more supportive in the mix. Also, the vocals are a bit too out in front sometimes, leaving them sounding separated from the band. Nothing too major, and still a great sound overall.

RHV is still running with their synth-filled pop rock sound that has them gaining popularity in the Midwest and beyond. If you're a big fan you will like this disc despite it's weak points; plus it's just nice to hear them sounding so clean. If you aren't into their brand of simplistic toe-tappin' rock, then this will definitely not sway you over. New fans should try to find a copy of their self-titled full length first, though that may be difficult since it is out of print. "Summer Fling" has its moments and is worth a spin in your player, but the songwriting is more hit-or-miss than their previous work. I still love these guys, and they are a blast to see live.