Year 3, Day 23: Hot Hot Heat – Make Up the Breakdown
- Naked in the City Again
- No, Not Now
- Get In or Get Out
- Oh, Goddamnit
- This Town
- Talk to Me, Dance with Me
- Save Us S.O.S.
- In Cairo
About the Album
Make Up the Breakdown is the debut album from Canadian art rockers, Hot Hot Heat. Recorded in 2002, the album was released in early October of the same year. Pitchfork Media ranked the album 20th on it’s Top 50 Albums of 2002. The album was released through Seattle based, Sub Pop Records.
Thoughts on the Album
On the first year and last year I featured two different posts from this band about elevators and happiness being limited. For today’s album we take a look at the British Columbian art rockers/dance punkers/ indie rockers, Hot Hot Heat‘s debut album Make Up the Breakdown. Whereas Elevator is more polished and Happiness LTD is more explorative and stylish, Make Up the Breakdown is in a sense raw, edgy, but still somewhat polished. Not as polished for some, but for me that’s alright because of the reenergizing they do of the late 1970s/1980s new wave. The kind of new wave that was pioneered by acts like Elvis Costello, The Cars, and Joe Jackson. It’s a geeky, abrasive, pop style of new wave.
This album has a shiny yet unobtrusive production about it which adds to it’s retro sounding quality. It is like this album was unearthed from a time capsule buried in 1981 and it was only found recently. And it’s this retro charm that adds to the albums appeal with paranoid pop songs like No, Not Now, Bandages, and Oh, Goddamnit; whose tense hooks and clever wordplay almost match the greatness of their influences. But luckily for the band, they avoid sounding derivative, more so because of the life, vitality, and enthusiasm that they bring with this album. Seriously, every song on this album overflows with an anxious energy and memorable melodies that the makes calls their own.
But this having so many tightly wound pop songs is both a blessing and curse as the band really doesn’t let itself breathe until the last track, In Cairo. The band opens itself up and opens it’s sound open on this track. The track features an exquisite piano melody and offers a slightly darker style that differs from the more upbeat songs on the album. Maybe the band was hinting at exploring this more on a feature release? The beauty of the album lays in it’s crunchy guitars and it’s vocals. Steve Bays, the lead singer, while rarely pausing to breathe, changes his vocal range as well as speeding up and slowing down to match the rest of the band.
Where Make Up the Breakdown lacks in diversity, it more than makes up for in quality. I see why Pitchfork placed this album it’s top 20 of the Top 50 of 2002. It’s an addictive, and densely packed album that never loses it’s excitement or clever wittiness. It was definitely worthy of being one of 2002’s best albums. Give Bandages, Get In Get Out, No, Not Now, and Talk to Me, Dance with Me a whirl. So it back, relax, and just jam out.