Hot Flash band Heat Wave have returned with their third full-length LP, “Sportswear,” closing the five-year gap since their last full album in 2017.
Hot Flash Heat Wave first entered the independent music scene in 2015 with their debut album “Neapolitan”. The single “Gutter Girl” from her first album still ranks as the most streamed song on Spotify with over 24 million streams.
With the release of “Sportswear” on March 11, the indie trio from San Francisco has gone from their original garage rock roots to a more new wave sound filled with catchy synths that appeal to a more laid-back vibe.
The track, “Yesterday”, begins with dark melodic sounds that take you into a subtle trance. The beat smoothly and steadily transitions to a more upbeat sound as member Ted Davis’ vocals come into play. The lyrics and the blissful nature of the music do a great job of capturing a moment of nostalgia and reminiscence.
The sweet sounds continue on the second track “2 Birds”, where we hear the smooth and rich voice of member Adam Abildgaard. When hearing it for the first time, the intro of this song resembles the opening of “Lost” by Frank Ocean. However, it quickly changes with a melodious riff emerging from the electric guitar.
“Bay Boys” is supposed to be an ode to the trio’s hometown of Davis, California, with lyrics like “cruisin’ with the bay boys, riding to the edge of the earth” and “nobody gonna stop the bay boys.” , ride or die to the end.The song creates a more goth-rock sound with his low, gloomy voice, reminiscent of 1970s goth bands like The Cure and Joy Division.
Songs like “Where I’m @”, “Vampires” and “Grudge” play the foundation of the psych-pop melody infused with the band’s indie roots. The feel-good songs are all catchy in melody and lyrics.
“Motions” explores the band’s new wave sound that captures dreamy harmony through the use of lully synths. Aside from its obvious title and lyricism, the song perfectly captures the feeling of drifting on a wave of ecstasy and pure happiness.
“Spin” is more of a cheesy song on the album that apparently refers to an on-and-off relationship with the lyrics, “like a carousel that goes around in circles, we’re on a journey that never stops.” Higher pitched synth and bright electric guitar sounds drive the song’s pop sound.
As the album progresses, songs like “The Void” experiment with sounds inspired by 80s electro house. “The Void” is reminiscent of club culture with a heavier beat that combines lazer-like sound effects. It pumps out an energetic tone as booming synth and percussion carry throughout the song.
“Like Nothing Else” begins to close the album with a hazy distortion that bursts into an ethereal melody created by Davis’s muffled but angsty voice. As the song’s scintillating effects come to an end, there is a brief pause that continues with a soft piano instrumental.
Finally, “Bridge to Nowhere” is unlike any of the other tracks on the album. The band throws all their electronic ambient beats on this last track, creating a flawless lo-fi hit that closes out the album.
The band has created an album unlike anything they have done in the past. Through experimentation with new techniques, “Sportswear” is immersive and captivating as the band tries to balance mental health and existential obstacles amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It speaks beyond music and creates insight into our personal lives through narratable lyricism.