Hot Hot Heat Knock Knock Knock

If Cure front-man Robert Smith had teamed up with XTC in 1978, the results might have sounded something like Victoria quartet Hot Hot Heat. On this five-song Sub Pop debut, the three-year-old band manages to isolate and emulate some of the best and most enduring elements of new wave's original crest while avoiding coming off as some sort of retro act in the process. The best tracks here feature catchy and playful melodies played out under jerky, jarring arrangements and the sometimes-spastic whine of vocalist/keyboardist Steve Bays. On the EP's most accessible track, "Touch You Touch You," guitarist Dante DeCaro puts in a convincing impersonation of the Edge, seemingly prompting Bays to follow suit with his own eerily keen Bono. Don't be too grossed out by that comparison though. After all, the last time U2 released something this dynamic and energetic, Bono didn't know his third world debt from his wraparound designer shades. Although Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla co-produced this delightful effort, according to the band's website, Hot Hot Heat spent the second half of May in the studio with veteran producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Black Halos, etc.), recording material for a full-length Sub Pop debut scheduled to drop in the fall. The band will spend the summer making a name for itself on the highways of North America, including a couple weeks of Canadian dates in July. If Hot Hot Heat's live show is anywhere near as solid as the band is on disc, the shows will be well worth checking out. (Sub Pop)