The Hot Melts
Do you remember the last time? The thrill, the spine-tingling excitement felt up and down the country when Oasis were breaking through? The time was right for a bunch of mouthy smart-arses to shake things up as the country was in thrall to the most insipid North American genre imaginable - we were turning beige as we choked upon the pedestrian excesses of Seattle. Pearl Jam? What were we thinking? These things go in cycles of course and here we are again, living in times where it is a serious risk to personal credibility to back anything that doesn't have a straggly beard and live in a shack in Wisconsin. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Hot Melts.
Don't be fooled, they may appear to be named after an unsuccessful Ovaltine substitute but underneath that superficial malty goodness there's a whiff putrid decadence and louche guitar riffs a-plenty. Red Lips is the perfect calling card, managing to pack sex, drugs, booze and blood into three perfect minutes of swaggering rock which isn't unlike Liam Gallagher fronting the Queens of the Stone Age. It would be easy to drop say, 25 band names into the review here and leave it at that as Hot Melts are proper magpies, they've crafted a bruising debut through cherrypicking the best of the last 20 years of rock and Britpop. The saving grace is that none of it is a karaoke carbon copy, they've hoovered it all up and created something new. Recent single Edith really sets the overall tone for the album and sees the band scramble up into the niche vacated by The Darkness and Terrorvision before them. This is party music. It isn't the future of rock n roll by any means but it sure as hell represents the present.
OK, so maybe you've heard the two singles and you are still not convinced but the magnificence of Big Baby will surely change your mind. Imagine The Beatles plying their poppermost harmonies over the Manic's La Tristessa... and you are halfway there. This is the kind of heartbusting, epic rock music that could hip shake a nation out of the doldrums. And talking of the Beatles, it is well documented that Cobain was only persuaded to allow multitracking on his voice as it was deemed alright for Lennon, so it is perhaps fitting that things have come full circle back to Liverpool as vocalist Will Baylis sails very close to Kurt on Fun which, true to the cynical undercurrent of the album, is a song about not having any.
We’ve established that The Hot Melts are seemingly on a highway to hell, paved with the usual detritus of rock excess and songs such as 24, which deals with a young rake’s ambition to be the 24th and final shag in a potential conquest’s diary, do little to dispel that notion. Scratch a little below the surface however and perhaps things are not quite as decadent as they appear. Now, I am no doctor (as the GMC recently ‘proved’ in the courts) but My Sweetness is Making Me Ill appears to be a rock n roll explosion on the not quite so rock n roll topic of diabetes and, dig a little deeper again and you find a delicate love song amongst the vomit soaked wreckage of adolescent ennui. A love song with a difference though as Nana is dedicated to an elderly relative who sits helpless in her hospital bed "like the queen of old England" while her family, equally helpless, falls apart at the seams. As incongruous as Nikki Sixx' Nona on Girls, Girls, Girls but no less touching for all that. In some respects, haircuts, tattoos and heroin overdoses aside, the Crue is not a bad reference point for the band, particularly when taking in the glam rock excess of Shrink which recalls London and their balls out version of Oh Darling.
Now, if all of this talk of rough boys and their guitars has resulted in your calling for a posy and your vinaigrette of smelling salts then maybe The Hot Melts are not for you but, for the rest of you, c’mon enjoy yourselves: it's later than you think.