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Make Up The Breakdown

Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (115 ratings)
Make Up The Breakdown album cover
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
Album Information

Total Tracks: 10   Total Length: 32:17

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Wondering Sound

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Douglas Wolk


Douglas Wolk writes about pop music and comic books for Time, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired and elsewhere. He's the author of Reading Comics: How Gra...more »

Hot Hot Heat, Make Up The Breakdown
Label: Sub Pop Records

It's nearly impossible to guess from Hot Hot Heat's 2002 breakthrough album that their earliest incarnation was a hardcore band: On Make Up the Breakdown, they're a tuneful, totally weedy skinny-tie act prominently featuring adenoidal singer/keyboardist Steve Bays and drawing their cues from Oingo Boingo and early XTC. The one sign of their roots is the album's barreling, flailing momentum. Bays, in particular, is a hilarious motormouth, rattling off line after punning line of… read more »

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Great Album


I didn't get it here -- I've had it for years -- and this is definitely worth getting. One of the best of the aughts.

They Say All Music Guide

Picking up where the Knock Knock Knock EP left off, Make Up the Breakdown completes Hot Hot Heat’s transformation from a purveyor of the noisy synth-punk displayed on the band’s debut into a polished, but still edgy, pop group. Where some of their contemporaries delve into ’60s garage or ’70s post-punk, Hot Hot Heat specializes in re-creating and reinvigorating the new wave of the late ’70s and early ’80s — not the overly hairsprayed and eyelinered variety, but the geeky, abrasive pop pioneered by Elvis Costello, the Cars, Joe Jackson, and especially XTC, whose Drums & Wires and English Settlement seem to have been particularly influential on Make Up the Breakdown. The album’s shiny but unobtrusive production adds to its retro quality — it sounds like it’s been hiding since 1981 and was just unearthed recently. That only adds to the charm of paranoid pop songs like “No, Not Now,” “Bandages,” and “Oh Goddamnit,” which, with their tense hooks and witty wordplay, come close to matching the greatness of their influences. Fortunately, Hot Hot Heat avoids sounding merely derivative because of the vitality and enthusiasm the band brings to its music — virtually every track on Make Up the Breakdown bristles with nervous energy and catchy melodies that are entirely the group’s own. Indeed, that the album packs so many tightly wound pop songs into just over half an hour is both a blessing and a curse — on the first few listens, Make Up the Breakdown tends to whiz by in a blur of yelped, Andy Partridge-esque vocals and angular riffs and rhythms. It’s not until the final track, “Cairo,” that the members of Hot Hot Heat catch their breath and open up their sound. Based on a pretty, winding piano melody, the song offers a darker, slightly different twist on their style and suggests that they’re preparing to make an even bigger leap on their next album than they did on this one. Still, what Hot Hot Heat lacks in diversity is more than made up for in quality — Make Up the Breakdown is an addictive, densely packed pop gem that ranks among 2002′s best albums. – Heather Phares

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