May 09, 2002

Hot Hot Heat "Knock Knock Knock"

There's nothing more disingenious than new wave pop. Modern-day practitioners are often torn between wanting to make music that's highly danceable yet rather experimental, with very little alliegence to the mainstream fathers of the genre. If you want to
maintain a healthy image in this oh-so-fashionable underground scene, who would you rather claim to have been inspired by, Duran Duran or Section 25?

Hot Hot Heat are the latest arrivals at this art-rockmeets new-wave dance party party. From the first track on their Sub Pop debut EP, Knock Knock Knock, Hot Hot Heat throw down a gauntlet for other new-wave retro popsters. "La-La Low" is a fast little number that will get you dancin' around the bedroom. "5 Times out of 100" continues the fast-paced beat, but with more emphasis on shifting to a shifty, chronically changing tempo, Hot Hot Heat have quickly unpegged the listener from any notions of being a mere New Wave Band. In fact, the band's backing appears to be only a bass, piano, and drum, with two or three voices sing at the same time, making for a most odd, yet rather fulfilling song. "Have A Good Sleep" provides yet another stylistic shift, with a sneaky Oriental-style guitar entry, and sounds not unlike the Cure.

"Touch You Touch You," however, throws out all the stops, pours out the sexuality, and wears its lustful nature on its sleeve, all within this wonderful dance beat rhythm that sounds like the ultimate love child of Howard Jones and Falco. The Faint are but a faint memory when Hot Hot Heat finally get their groove back, and this would be an awesomelly powerful little record were it not for the fact that "More For Show" is so lackluster in comparison to the rest of Knock Knock Knock. Still, an 80 percent mark for an EP is pretty darn good, and I'm totally telling you all--keep an eye out for these guys! See, Hot Hot Heat have stumbled upon a fun, winning sound. It's a mixture of new-wave, pop, punk, and the all-important key element for dancy music: fun.

--Joseph Kyle

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