California natives Hot Flash Heat Wave have fully evolved from the confinements of a single genre. Having formed in 2010, the group produced trebly, surf-rock tracks prior to their 2017 sophomore album Soaked. Reminiscent of the expansive sound pioneered by groups such as Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, this album promotes the cathartic feeling that attracts so many to 80s dream pop. The LP’s title- Soaked- summarizes the ability of the tracks to encompass the listener within its soundscape.
While Soaked is their latest album release, the band continued with shoegaze inspired tracks on their 2019 Mood Ring EP- a dreamy set of songs defined by heavy bass lines and explosive synths. Perfectly visualized by Clare Byrne’s cover art, the EP emulates the feeling of watching the sunset cast structured, yet hazy shapes against the wall.
Most recently, a handful of single releases point towards further evolution in HFHW’s sound with the utilization of voice modulation and quicker tempos in tracks such as This Night Has Opened My Eyes, Grudge, and m o t i o n s.
Vampires, the most recent single off of an upcoming album, highlights the true versatility of HFHW’s material. Vampires differentiates itself from previous albums through a rich wall of sound that easily accompanies expressive visuals. The track features a quick-tempoed drum beat holding steady as the focus swaps between Ted Davis’s droning vocal performance and Adam Abiligaard’s echoing guitar line.
Combining the simple crooning sound defined by The Strokes with the busy melodies of the 80s, the song accomplishes a sound independent of either genre with lyrics expressing complex and sometimes conflicting desires. “It’s draining / Giving more than you wanted / Playing into their pockets,” the lyrics lament, criticizing the “bloodsucking” nature of the modern world.
Although the song complies with halloween season tropes as it warns the listener to “beware, baby,” it maintains sincerity through relevant lyricism and complementing instrumentals. As evidenced by Vampires, HFHW’s upcoming LP can be expected to cement the sound of a genre completely their own.