When this big-haired band of Victoria white-belters with a spastic sound that was both melodic and smart first hit the scene, they were unequivocally unique, flagging the coming dance rock explosion.
Listening to Hot Hot Heat's second stab at major-label glory, you wonder where the band derailed. Was it when they jumped from Sub Pop? Guitarist Dante DeCaro ditched, taking his jittery riffs and catchy hooks with him, leaving Hot Hot Heat with 2005's Elevator, an album that commercially never left the lobby.
Replacement guitarist Luke Paquin is serviceable but stays in the shadows, while vocalist Steve Bays sheds more of HHH's former skin on a sonically big record that offers only rare doses of the pulsating new wave punk energy they once emitted. Lead single Let Me In, with its soaring chorus and amped-up sense of drama (a la Killers), exemplifies Happiness's constant reach for modern rock radio's embrace. No surprise one of the best tracks is 5 Times Out of 100, a recooked song from 02's untouchable Knock Knock Knock EP.
HHH fire up Kool Haus October 8.