CD Review: Hot Hot Heat

Happiness Ltd. Sire
Music •••½ Sound ••••

How information-packed is Hot Hot Heat's second major-label effort? Consider this: "Outta Heart" has everything from a Led Zeppelin drum intro (think of levees breaking) to a lush Beatles finale with lingering cellos. It's a classically grandiose album-closer - and it's only Track 5. Still to come are the disc's Phil Spector and Gang of Four homages, not to mention the CD's true finale, "Waiting for Nothing," which builds from piano ballad to prog-metal extravaganza. Joined by a trio of expensive producers, the band seems to have approached this as a make-or-break album, throwing in every melodic hook and every sonic and stylistic twist it could muster. While the lyrics are largely breakup-themed, singer Steve Bays sounds more manic than reflective, yelping at the top of his vocal range throughout. Elevator was a tad more relaxed and tuneful, but if this one was supposed to hold your attention, it has succeeded.

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