Fame is fleeting. Happiness is subjective.
Deal with it.
That's the paradox Hot Hot Heat's lead singer, Steve Bays, was wrapping his brain around this past year.
Shot into the mainstream as a pop rock act with New Wave tendencies and a new-millennium vibe, the Canadian band scored major critical acclaim with its 2002 breakthrough Make Up the Breakdown.
It followed with 2005's underachieving Elevator. But where some bands might have rushed back to the well, this one took a break to collect its creative breath. The result is the brand-new Happiness Ltd. , which is decidedly more rock than prior releases.
"The best thing you can do as a musician is just be selfish and just do what you want to do that day," Bays says while calling from Santa Barbara, Calif. "We just didn't want to rush out another record because that's what the appropriate thing to do was. We just wanted to wait until every song was attached to a little part of us. Every song should be in its own little world and be special and, if not, you're just putting out more digital crap into the world."
Digital crap is certainly not what Hot Hot Heat achieved on Happiness Ltd. , which has been well-received by fans and most critics (though apparently not by the Indy's own Matt Martin; see csindy.com/csindy/2007-09-20/soundadvice.html). Many believe this new 11-track album is probably the group's most adventurous to date, and in line with its creative path so far.
En vogue for its time, Hot Hot Heat's Make Up the Breakdown pre-dated the neo-New Wave zeitgeist defined a few years later by The Killers' Hot Fuss and The Bravery's self-titled debut. 2005's Elevator, was the band's '70s pop album, Bays says.
The focus on Happiness Ltd. was grander.
"We kind of like the fear of the unknown," Bays says. "It seemed like we could do a record that was all kind of just club tracks and dirty stuff. But as you get older, you want to sing about subjects that are a little bit closer to your heart. You want to pull off something with a little bit of depth."
Hot Hot Heat became entranced with the production studio, layering Theremins, extra percussion and even a full orchestra into the mix. The result is what Bays believes is something special.
"We wanted it to be a big rock record," he says. "And it's big rock-sounding because it encompasses a lot of different genres. I think our thing is [that] it always sounds different. There are a lot of bands that just do one thing, and I respect that, but I want to be able to do whatever I want to do.
"I know it's selfish, but it seems to be the only way it's going to come across as honest."
Hot Hot Heat with Bedouin Soundclash and De Novo Dahl
Gothic Theatre, 3263 S. Broadway, Englewood
Monday, Oct. 1, 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15; visit ticketmaster.com.