Hotspur: Beta

[19 November 2006]

By Mike Schiller

Back in the ‘60s, pop songs were shorter than they are today.  It was a time when a song would show up, say its piece, and leave without driving said piece into the ground for an extra minute or two of guitar solos, chorus repetitions, or whatnot.  For whatever reason, in this age of diminished attention spans and market-driven programming, pop songs have actually become longer, with the prototypical pop song now lasting three-and-a-half to five(!) minutes.  DC-area band Hotspur takes a cue from those pop songs of an earlier era, its members keeping their power-pop crisp, concise, and never long enough to overstay its welcome.  On their debut album Beta, they sound like they’re having fun, and they toss things in like dance beats, pianos, and the occasional string instrument / synth without batting an eye, all while keeping the requisite ballad (in this case, the lovely “Have You Seen This Girl”) from slowing them down too much.  Other highlights include “Goodbye, Goodbye”, which is darker but no less catchy than anything else on the album, and the incredible, not-even-three-minute “5th of July”, which grabs some seriously ‘80s synth noises and pastes them on to a triumphant, infectious chorus, adding up to Beta‘s strongest track.  This is a debut?  It’s self-assured and confident enough to be a third or fourth album, at least despite its self-effacing title.  Seriously, somebody sign these guys already.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/hotspur-beta/