Hot Hot Heat - Elevator (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hot Hot Heat

Elevator (2005)


Elevator is Hot Hot Heat's first effort in three years, and a period whose length is likely attributed to the fact that writing for the band's major label debut resulted in roughly 30 scrapped songs. The band had begun collaborating on new material during tour support of 2002's Make Up The Breakdown, and, unhappy with the material, tossed it out, reportedly due to, among other complaints, that despite the "darker, more expansive" nature, they were essentially writing the same record over. So while Elevator certainly has its differences, it's funny that in many ways, it's still deathly similar to its predecessor, at least at the band's foundation. It's a fun, immensely catchy pop record that retains the band's trademark quirk and clever angle on pseudo-sappy relationship outtakes and bizzarre personal narratives.

The major difference this time around is how largely a Strokes influence runs through the record, notably in the guitar tone and occasional vocal inflection. In the former, it sometimes gives off an unnatural twang akin to the majority of Room On Fire. The latter, at times, will have Steve Bays singing in a similar, near-drunken and almost incomprehensible, rambled slur, especially in "Jingle Jangle" or certain moments of "Pickin' It Up" and the bridge of "Island Of The Honest Man." While many may have lazily lumped both into the nü-garage movement at the time of the band's previous effort, any resulting comparisons this time around seem a lot more logistically certified.

After a bunch of muffled, interspersed voices in the disc's intro track, "Running Out Of Time" begins with a baseball announcer-esque fervor; the organs have that definitively sport-like, mid-inning feel. The transition to the verse is slightly artless, but several among the record's transitions are like this - not so much clumsy as they are surprisingly ungraceful. Ironically enough, the two songs with the most awkward transitions from verse to chorus are two of the tracks that stand out; lead single "Goodnight Goodnight" suddenly jumps to jangled guitar chords in its sugary beats from its off-kiltered, subtle organ in the verses, and "Island Of The Honest Man" forgets to build as Bays hastily wails "Welcome to the island of the honest man! Do what you want - there is no need to impress us" following the dance pop-driven shake of its verses.

Up until track 7, the record seems to fly by. By the time a listener will have glanced down to check the status, half of it has released itself through the speakers. However, at this point it slows down a bit, balancing out Elevator. The dragging tempos prove the former half offer the best material as this type of pace is unusual for the band, but nod-worthy tracks like the record's comparative ballad, "Middle Of Nowhere," and "Dirty Mouth" with its acoustically-driven introduction are served up modestly, as well as the throwback cynicism of the closing title track.

While fairly disappointing for the fans who fell for Hot Hot Heat's vividly consistent approach to perfectly produced synth-pop hooks and Cure-inspired moodiness, Elevator is hardly compromising and a more than decent effort for the abovementioned reasons. True, the band has likely already hit their musical peak, but thankfully, it'll apparently be a gradual way down via the conveyor belt.

Goodnight, Goodnight
Island Of The Honest Man