Night Time Sound Desire, the début from LA’s Hot As Sun – careful googlin’ that by the way – starts off pleasantly enough. Both “Dahnce to the Beat” and “Stop Talking” are supercutie, bubblegum n’ lipsticks, beehives n’ pastels ‘60s girl-group pastiche. All big beat bouncin’ over floaty breezy air kisses n’ handclaps. Custom built for either go-go dancing in bobby socks and pink cashmere or sullenly practicising your best Danny Zuko impression. Or both, obviously. It’s três “Indie-Spector” à la Best Coast, Tennis, Summer Camp, knowing wink yada-yada and sure it’s toothsome n’ smiley enough in a “Sunday picnic, cucumber sandwiches, cream n’ scones and pots of fresh tea” kinda way. But folks we ain’t here to sip no Earl Grey in matching knitwear, c’mon baby, light my fire!
Luckily then, and with much “Cor blimey!” surprise, it’s suddenly “Exit light! Enter night!”. Et voilà! Hot As Sun sho’ nuff bring “Da Heat” and indeed deliver “Da Goods”. Out go the jazz hands, chiffon scarves and ice cream sodas and in comes the passion, the neon manifesto, mirrorballs, twinklin’ synths, badass bass, razor cheekbones and lots of melodramatic lighting. The title track is chic slick, new wave, Blondie-cool, pop art lightin’ up a Manhattan skyline. A shufflin’ B-girl beat beckons a ravishing, transcendental, analogue-orgasm of a chorus. “DEEEESIRE!” bellows a reborn Jamie Jackson bursting with the heavenly promise of the moonlight. Romantic, intoxicating, divine. The ingeniously-monikered “Mother I’m Alive!” is better still. Picture Kate Bush in High Priestess clobber reciting some underworld gospel from the (g)rave-up and backed by a hologram of Keith Moon on bone shakin’ percussion. It rises and simmers steadily before exploding into a million fireworks. A foxy Bride of Frankenstein illuminated into life, “I’m alive! I’m ALIVE! I’M ALIVE! ….HEY!!”. A jolt to the heart so ridiculously, joyfully OTT it’s difficult not to be swept up in its euphoric rush and demand Slash appear and immediately conduct a celebratory axe-solo salute atop a mountain. “Out of the darkness…INTO THE LIGHT!” Bloomin’ triumphant and, yes, probably best enjoyed whilst wearing neon robes.
Though the skippy n’ chirpy valentine “When We Fell” momentarily shimmies in another Shangri-La swing n’ sway, the remainder of Night Time remains rich n’ strange. The hazy, Mary Jane ‘n’ velvet sigh of “War With Time” drifts n’ swirls sweetly like the lost souls of the Mamas and the Papas trapped inside a lava lamp. Elsewhere the narcoleptic, narcotic drawl of “The Heist” drops Nancy Sinatra through the looking glass onto a Screamadelica-fried kaleidoscopic rainbow. “We got lost in the days of our youth”, smokes Jackson. It positively sparkles ‘n’ melts from the speakers. “Daydreams” is similarly a trick of sunshine and premium opiates. Its pockets filled deep with Joshua trees, space dust, pills and peyote but like most of Night Time Sound Desire its heart trips high on tip-top pop.
With Buck Rogers’ Moonshine Spacepop Party mode now fully activated, Hot As Sun tickle the toppermost of the poppermost with a triptych of atomic beauties in the second half. The infectious, stellar, kick to the knackers called “Dime in the Pocket” is Toni Basil’s “Mickey” given an M.I.A. makeover and strapped to a rocket. Tight. Punchy, sassy and bulletproof cool-as-fuck. Then the Hi-NRG electro bootstomp of “Desert Song” rolls resplendent with twinkling “Baba O’Riley” synths, a vivacious army of handclapping disciples and one cheerleader chantin’ trashtalk chorus. It’d make Madonna turn a Hulk-tasmic shade of green. Later “Don’t Let The Right One Get Away” hotwires the bassline from Gary Numan’s “Cars” and heads out in hot pursuit of synthy ‘80s powerballad Valhalla. Jackson’s ghostly, wistful pining dialling both the heartache and the “Big Bouffant Balladeer” windmachine to eleven. It’s perfect to tearfully, but triumphantly, close some John Hughes’ style tale of tempestuous youthful heartache and surely someone, somewhere, somehow will Say Anything-style heroically raise aloft their faithful ol’ ghetto blaster and slowly press “PLAY”. Swoonsome and mucho romantico. All that remains is for the anaesthetised Beatles n’ Barbarella burning embers of “So Many Times” to bid us adieu. “I can’t go another day…without you” pines Miss Jackson (Wooo!) and that’s the sound of the sun rising.
Night Time Sound Desire is a heady and invigorating cocktail of pop, art and possibly high class pharmaceuticals. It convincingly showcases Hot As Sun as sharp songwriters with a canny knack for melodic, silvery space pop. Even if they’re still perhaps perfecting their ultimate design Night Time is consistently rich with colour, ideas, energy and clever curiosity. Shake off the few saccharine ‘60s kitsch-pastiches and the odd misstep (the dodgy Sleigh Bells’ ringin’, sugarush hyperbrats of “My Feet are Sinking”) and it’s even more alluring. It’s no great stretch then to suggest that, yes, Hot As Sun are, metaphorically at least, “On fire”.