Hot Hot Heat will release their third album for Sire Records on September 10th 2007, entitled "Happiness LTD." The album is the band's first since 2005's well-received Elevator, which spawned the Modern Rock radio hits "Middle of Nowhere" and "Goodnight Goodnight." Hot Hot Heat began writing new material in January 2005 the very day they launched a globe-trotting tour to support Elevator. "We wanted this record to be written on the road," says the band's co-founder and frontman Steve Bays, "partly so the influences would be more varied, but also so we could test out the songs live before we recorded them. We wrote music everywhere - Spain, Japan, Australia, the U.K. - so each song has a different mood." While "Happiness LTD" retains Hot Hot Heat's trademark playful melodies and witty wordplay, Bays says that what started out as a modest, live-sounding effort ending up being the band's most adventurous and experimental album yet. "It's difficult to describe its overall musical direction, but if I had to choose two adjectives I'd go with 'big' and 'aggressive,'" he says. "As a band, we got most excited about the over-the-top, epic-sounding songs, so we kept pushing the tracks that way. The album has its fair share of seedy club songs, but they are dirtier and darker." Lyrically, the album is about struggling to hold on to optimism and innocence in the wake of having your heart crushed. "It covers the journey from bliss to misery and the attempt to get back to bliss, while acknowledging how exciting the ride can be in between," Bays says. "There's an arc to the record as a whole; it almost comes across like a film, musically and lyrically." Hot Hot Heat's new album - the first with guitarist Luke Paquin, who joined the group after the departure of guitarist Dante DeCaro - was co-produced by the band, which also includes drummer Paul Hawley and bassist Dustin Hawthorne, and an array of top-notch producers including former Marvelous 3 frontman Butch Walker, legendary mixer Tim Palmer (U2, David Bowie, the Cure), and Rob Cavallo, known for his work with Green Day and My Chemical Romance amongst many others. "We were way more involved with the production on this record than ever before," Bays says, "so it made sense to work with certain people on certain songs." The forthcoming release boasts a host of wonderfully unique songs. According to Bays, "'Outta Heart' is the most non-Hot Hot Heat song we've ever done." The song features falsetto vocals, Theremin, a full orchestra, and "a gang of girls singing backup." Bays says the last song written for the album, "Harmonicas & Tambourines," has lots of tricks - like four drum kits at once - that make it more than just a dance song. "It's seedy and dark, but pretty," he says. "Like every album we've done, the new one feels drastically different than our previous ones," Bays says. "We put a lot of emphasis on surprise this time around. There are lots of twists and turns and unpredictable arrangements and instrumentation choices - yet somehow it maintains an overall timelessness."
The title song and opening track of Hot Hot Heat's third major-label album will throw some people for a loop. Abandoning the group's familiar new-wave stomp, "Happiness Ltd." is a tear-stained ballad with a philosophical kicker worthy of Morrissey: "Happiness is limited but misery has no end." Could it be that the members of the keyboard-fronted Canuck band are growing up and taking stock? Not really. It's just that most of the album was written after singer Steven Bays' split with a long-term girlfriend and it shows. The disco-rock jitters come back soon enough with the next selection, "Let Me In," but there's no denying that the group's horizons have broadened. For every throwback Cure sound-alike, such as "Give Up?," there's a lush retort featuring the Abbey Road Orchestra-like "Outta Heart." With a host of big-budget producers behind the boards--Butch Walker (Avril Lavigne, Pink), Tim Palmer (U2, David Bowie), and Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance)--it might not represent a complete about-face, but it does represent a band coming of age in a big way. Besides, how sweet would it be if Bays could send a picture of one of those platinum album thingies to the girl who broke his heart? --Aidin Vaziri