Hot Hot Heat
"Happiness Ltd."

(Sire Records 2007)Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd.

Do too many cooks spoil the broth? Sometimes having a varied perspective on things is a good thing, keeping things exciting and new -- the spice of life. But Hot Hot Heat's "Happiness Ltd." has four different production teams twiddling knobs. Butch Walker, producer to the likes of Avril Lavigne and a noted musician on his own, co-produces a number of tracks with the band while Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dwarves) makes an appearance as does Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock, My Chemical Romance) and the team of Tim Palmer (Him) and Hot Hot Heat frontman Steve Bays.

The band's electronics sound as though they could have come from any '80s B-rate movie. The opening strains of "Let Me In" pulse expectantly while full instrumentation swells around it as "So So Cold" offers a similar sound that is a little less embellished. Percussion and guitar set things in motion while the relatively slower melodic vocals team with keyboards on "Conversation" as the song offers up an inexplicable cowbell solo. The album's title track pulses before launching into a sweeping, upbeat sound in the same way as "Give Up?," with its bubbly, catchy chorus. While the melodic ballad of "Outta Heart" shows off a softer but still guarded Hot Hot Heat, the band jump to the opposite end of the spectrum with the irritatingly disjointed rhythm of "5 Times Out Of 100."

When it comes down to it, Hot Hot Heat's "Happiness Ltd." is likely one of those albums where it really depends on personal preference. With that said, while it is clear to see the direction that the band were going, the whiny vocals combined with the outdated electronics tend to be grating. Hot Hot Heat cannot just give you their songs; everything has to have a spin or a twist on it. In the end, it just does not add up and "Happiness Ltd." is simply overdone.

C+

buy it!