Hot Hot Heat album ice cold

By Gus Bode

Hot Hot Heat

“Happiness Ltd.”

Release date: Sept. 11, 2007


Record Label: Sire Records

1 out of 5 stars

Apparently the old adage is wrong – practice doesn’t make perfect.

“Happiness Ltd.,” the new album from Hot Hot Heat, is evidence of this fallacy.

Though this is the indie-alternative-rock group’s fifth LP, the band is still working to find a decent sound.

The most negative factor of the album is Steve Bays’ voice, which sounds like a fusion of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Alexander Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand – except bad.


The title track, “Happiness Ltd.” begins well enough with a great bass line and decent instrumentals, but all hope for a decent album is lost after 56 seconds of play – the point at which Bays enters with his wailing, whiny voice.

Listeners may quickly find themselves searching for a Q-tip to shove into their ear so they no longer have to hear the substandard singing.

Unfortunately, lack-luster instrumentals don’t make up for the shoddy vocals, either. It’s difficult to determine whether the awful singing makes the instrumentals sound better or if the music is bad in its own right. Regardless, the rhythms and riffs are repetitious and sound incredibly similar to the music of other indie-rock groups like Franz Ferdinand.

A lack of variety among the tracks also adds to the poor package, leaving listeners feeling they’re hearing the same line on repeat the whole way through the album.

While the songs all have differing intros, like the drum riff at the beginning of “Outta Heart” or the strong entrance of “Good Day to Die,” the verse and chorus of the tracks all sound too similar.

Strong lyrics are also lacking on the album. Most of the lines don’t make sense – they seem to be random words thrown together for the sake of rhyming or musicality.

“The weatherman he told me it’s getting cold, now it’s the same old story, pockets filled with gold,” is one example of incoherent lyrics from “Good Day to Die.”

Perhaps the one redeeming factor of the album is “Let Me In,” the single released from the record. The track has a decent intro and features a catchy chorus, though listeners may still be reluctant to let Bays’ voice in their ears.

Listeners’ happiness – and patience – with “Happiness Ltd.” may indeed be limited.

Audra Ord can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].