Album review: Hot Hot Heat's 'Future Breeds'

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Friday, September 3, 2010


"Future Breeds"

Kindred spirits: Spoon, Phoenix, the Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand

Show: Friday at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. 202-388-7625. $15.

With its new release, "Future Breeds," Hot Hot Heat goes back to the formula that earned the group its initial success in 1999: infectious, energetic guitar- and synth-driven rock. It's the sound of a frantic band waiting to explode.

But the driving guitar/synth combination is nothing new in post-punk indie-rock circles. What makes "Future Breeds" work is singer-songwriter Steve Bays's mouth. Bays uses words like an instrument with rhythm. He was once a drummer, and it's the sense of rhythm in his lyrics and delivery that allows him to bend syntax with playful language and unconventional stress in songs such as "Implosionatic" when he sings, "Get on it/Where's your iconic/All too ironic/Romantic tragedy recorded quadrophonic?"

"Future Breeds" represents the band's playful maturity. Bays sings about "cool ideas and observations" about other people, as on "21@12," a song inspired by a friend who tried to get into a bar a few hours before his 21st birthday. The song carries the classic HHH sound, but with lyrics like "A virtual who's-who of the who-cares, the self appointed king and queen/Better off jester rather tame the troops than fertilize the village green," the lyrics become another instrument.

-- Benjamin Opipari

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