Hot Hot Heat - Elevator (2005)
2. Running Out Of Time
3. Goodnight Goodnight
4. Ladies And Gentlemen
5. You Owe Me An IOU
6. No Jokes-Fact
7. Jingle Jangle
8. Pickin' It Up
9. Island Of The Honest Man
10. Middle Of Nowhere
11. Dirty Mouth
12. Soldier In A Box
14. Shame On You
The Yanks of this community (and, sadly, some of the Canucks here) may not know this, but today is Canada Day! 138 years ago, our proud fore-fathers got together and told England "hey, would you mind if we ran things ourselves?". To which England replied "bout time". To commemorate the birth of my great nation, I've decided to review a Canadian album.
I guess if I was being ultra-patriotic today, I'd review something prototypically Canadian, like Leonard Cohen, but Hot Hot Heat's 2005 release Elevator will have to do. True, it was already reviewed by twistedyouth, but that doesn't preclude further reviews, particularly since I don't share his opinion on the album.
I've been a big fan of the band since discovering their Make Up the Breakdown LP, and thus was greatly anticipating its follow-up. Since recording Elevator, the band has switched guitarists, replacing Dante DeCaro with Luke Paquin, making this DeCaro's last effort with the group. They've also grown in popularity in the world of indie rock, making this their possible break out record.
First, the bad news. The album is nowhere near as punchy and vibrant as Make Up the Breakdown. Whereas that album was a collection of the catchiest, toe-tappingest, head-bobbingest rock of the past few years, Elevator is a little more subdued, even going as far as to employ the use of acoustic guitar in "Dirty Mouth" and the title track, compliments of their drummer Paul Hawley. Steve Bays vocals lack the same spastic energy from the prior record, and are generally more polished and controlled this time around. In many ways, Elevator is a safer album, which can be seen as a disappointment for fans of their previous work.
On the other hand, I find Elevator to be a more mature effort, which has grown on me more with every listen. I've had the benefit of hearing the album performed live (and will do so again next week), which has expedited my appreciation for the album. It starts off with "Running Out of Time", the lead-off single "Goodnight, Goodnight", and "Ladies and Gentleman", all of which would've fit in fine with Make Up the Breakdown. Then comes "You Owe Me an IOU", which is alternately catchy and fun, or annoying and repetitive depending on your perspective.
After a brief interlude, the band changes directions with "Jingle Jangle", which I believe is their best and most mature song to date. Lyrically, it sounds like a song Billy Joel would write if he came out now and was influenced by 80's music (as opposed to coming out then and creating 80's music). This increased attention to the lyrical component of song-writing is further evident in the subsequent songs "Pickin' It Up", "Island of the Honest Man", and the new single "Middle of Nowhere".
The best thing I can say about the album is that while it lacks the immediacy of their previous release, it reveals a marked improvement in terms of lyrics and overall musical craft. If only they could have combined the two, this album would've been a true standout. As it is, Elevator is a perfectly good album for fans of the band and similar bands that I really enjoy, but isn't the breakout album for which they were hoping.