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Hot Chelle Rae’s ‘Whatever’: Light dance-rock songs

Hot Chelle Rae
Whatever

There’s nothing subtle about the brash, hooky sound of Hot Chelle Rae, the Nashville dance-rock quartet made up of the sons of successful music industry vets. “Tonight Tonight,” the first single from the band’s new album, “Whatever,” combines carpe diem hedonism, hard-charging guitars and a fat, lurching groove. “I Like It Like That,” their current single, offers more of the same — in this case, “windows down, chillin’ with the radio on” lyrics buoyed by plinking keyboards and head-bobbing beats. Big, bright and sardonic, the record’s remaining nine tracks are, with a couple of exceptions, merely variations on the themes and production values of the group’s first two singles.

“Whatever” opens with an orchestral flourish, only to give way to pumped-up Pink-style party-rock. “Honestly” brings more attitude, as well as a bright, sweeping melody and crunching pop-rock rhythms. “Radio,” with its careening singalong choruses, exults in the transformative possibilities of the venerable but often conflicted institution invoked in its title.

Lead singer Ryan Follese’s petulant vocals at times recall those of Fountains of Wayne frontman Chris Collingwood, whose band’s wry, deadpan lyrics are occasionally approximated by Hot Chelle Rae’s originals. “The Only One,” the record’s closer, is one of two ballads here and stands out for its lack of irony and cheek. From its ping-ponging keyboards to its funky, hip-hop-derived beats, the album is relentlessly effervescent, if emotionally stunted in spots. The overall effect is a lot like eating cotton candy — light and tasty but not something that stays with you.

Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended tracks

“Radio,” “Forever Unstoppable”

Cover art for Hot Chelle Rae's album “Whatever.” (Courtesy Jive Records)
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