These days, any band that pulls out a Casio is said to be resurrecting the spirit of the '80s -- as if cheesy synth-pop were all that decade had to offer. Refreshingly, Hot Hot Heat boasts the bounce of new-wave revivalists without the synthesizer fetish that normally accompanies skinny ties. Hot Hot Heat's Make Up the Breakdown combines jerky rhythms, sudden time changes and singer/keyboardist Steve Bays' dorky Andy Partridge-like yelp, creating a quirky, danceable record that could hold its own against any of XTC's early works. Like their fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne, Hot Hot Heat are often mistaken for punks; despite their punkish energy, however, they eschew aggression and simplicity in favor of an unfettered, kinetic sound.
Hot Hot Heat's current aesthetic jelled when the band members replaced their original singer with Bays, who sang on both Breakdown and last summer's Knock Knock Knock EP. When he joined, he told them he wanted to meet the band's goals, and, by any account, they're getting there. Their single "Bandages," with its squirrelly Farfisa intro and wobbly bass line, is all over M2; they just opened for No Doubt in New York; and their next album, Scores One Through Thirteen, will be released by Warner Brothers. If you miss 'em this weekend at the Galaxy, you might be squinting at their haircuts from the back of Savvis next time.