Sunshine filters all through Hot Flash Heat Wave’s second album Soaked, which sees this San Francisco based four piece explore the perils of early adulthood, feelings of time passing and, more specifically, the pitfalls of dating. It’s an attractive dream pop sound which occasionally bursts out with some near-grungy guitar riffing revealing something of the band’s early influences. Bye-bye baby is one such song, which tries to salvage some shred of self-respect from being dumped with a snarling “Bye-bye baby I really hate to see you go” which tries to turn it around, but this, like the churning guitars, is just bravado. Truth is that “the way you shot me down / It’s like you dropped me with a gun”. Things aren’t always so serious though, SF Dating Life is a new-wavey bubble-gum look at a roundabout of different potential partners coming and going with a blase and wry acceptance that it’s not so easy to be “trying to find a fit that’s right” in a town where “love’s been going out of style”. SF Dating Life is an example of light and dreamy love-lorn pop that can trace a path back through Jonathan Richman, The Turtles and The Lovin’ Spoonful.
There’s the same light touch on Blue which, despite the title, dispenses with heartache and laughs at the whole ridiculous charade. The echoey ghosts of any number of garage rock nuggets stroll through this song, making being blue, ironically less of a morose feel and more of a blueprint for love that might just work – away with deep feelings, how about having fun and seeing where that goes ? Or, more simply, “lighten up dude”. And that’s the vibe that forms the backbone to Soaked, there’s dreamy pop melodies – Gold Years bounces like dancers at a summer BBQ – and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, with just enough shade to prevent Hot Flash Heat Wave coming across as crassly superficial pop. With hooks aplenty Soaked will drag you back for repeated listens.