Hot Hot Heat, Make Up The Breakdown
A tuneful, totally weedy skinny-tie act with barreling, flailing momentum
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 "Oh, Goddamnit" until he has to gasp for air, babbling the title of "Bandages" like he's fending off an attack, opening "Save Us S.O.S." by nervously muttering, "You got to, you got to, you got to," and generally yelping and snapping as if somebody's electrified the floor under him. The whole group plays like they're wound up a little too far — guitarist Dante DeCaro is especially skittery and skittish-sounding — but, of course, that makes this an excellent party album.