Hot Hot Heat Hot Hot HeatFuture Breeds
Sell-out artists have been numerous over the past few years. When MTV didn’t yet base it’s programming on morbid reality shows ( “16 and pregnant”, anyone?), the former music channel gently opened the doors to bands like Green Day or Kings Of Leon to establish a public debate about the boundaries between commercial and alternative music. Today, the so-called ringtone is the oracle that makes the musical taste of millions of listeners ridiculous. The planetary scandalous case of The Killers’ “Human” comes to mind, a track played to death for no apparent reason even at the worst and most common parties and which consequently caused a wave of cheap jewellery lovers to mob the venues where Mr. Flowers and his gang played. Although, thinking it through, that isn’t really the problem. Who are we to deny a band their colonising airs and, more importantly, the possibility to buy themselves a mansion with twenty bathrooms they will never ever use? A turn to the commercial –mainstream, if you want to call it anything- really only hurts the followers who have been that since the time when nobody had even heard of the band. Something like that has happened to the Canadians Hot Hot Heat, only without the mansions.
After a promising EP in 2002– “Knock Knock Knock”– which chased after the noisiest margins of the hardcore bands, they became softer and softer, only to end up entering that New York scene The Strokes would abandon months later. With their first album “Make Up The Breakdown” the mutated their repertoire and went on to make innocent dance-punk – “Bandages”–, resulting in the acceptance by the indie-rock crowd. We don’t know if their then record label Sub Pop was encouraging them to make such metamorphosis, but their history within the sell-out mythology had only just begun. “Elevator” and “Happiness LTD” were a desperate turn to attract the masses. Many former fans turned their backs on them, but that doesn’t mean that the two previous HHH albums were two buckets of horse manure – “Goodnight Goodnight” still gives me good vibrations – but without a doubt the band from Columbia lost their edge and their identity in that creative emptiness that would eventually cost them.
After leaving Sire Records and signing with the premature Dangerbird, on “Future Breeds” Hot Hot Heat find that sympathetic fierceness of their debut again, albeit only in part. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when hearing “Implosionastic” –instrumental agitation with everything in the right place within a two-minute space– or “Jfk’s Lsd”, so dirty and shameless that the a-rhythmic drums of Paul Harvey and the keys give one of the best songs on the album a psychedelic dimension. The same goes for “Yvr”, on which they show us what they do with synthesisers. However, apart from these tracks, the rest of the tracks wander –sometimes more successfully than others- between what they are and what they used to be. Examples are “What Is Rational?” with its way to obvious chorus, repetitive and danceable like Franz Ferdinand, or “Buzinezz Az Usual”, a mid-tempo horror vacui which includes a string quartet, a melodramatic piano and the right amount of distorted guitars for the fans of their previous two album –those who have no idea of what they were up to in the early days- not to be too shocked. The rest is stuff they have already done many times before (only reducing the speed on “Zero Results”, while the title track provokes loud yawns), performing a kind of self-plagiarism which is a mortal sin for a band that never has been able to show what they’re capable of. The mansion with twenty bathrooms will never be theirs. With a bit of luck they’ll get a house on the outskirts of town with a couple of Jacuzzis. Sergio del Amo Hot Hot Heat - Times A Thousand