Hot Little Rocket

How to Lose Everything (File Under: Music)

At a point in its career when most bands would be angling for a hit, Hot Little Rocket takes the road less commercial. For its third full-length, How to Lose Everything, the Calgary act enlists the help of Steve Albini, the uncompromising sound man behind the Pixies' Surfer Rosa and Nirvana's In Utero.

At first, the difference between the new album and previous Hot Little Rocket releases isn't apparent. The band has always had a live-wire intensity on record, with a sound distinguished most by vocalist Andrew Wedderburn's instantly recognizable delivery–part anxious yelp, part conversational aside. But then it becomes apparent Albini's approach, which is to approximate a live feel as closely as possible, has brought the rest of the band up to the same level of passion and excitement as the singer. Albini brings Joel Nye's propulsive drumming and Patrick May's sneaky bass lines to the fore, and sharpens Wedderburn and Aaron Smelski's twin-guitar buzz. Some of the band's pop sensibility seems to have been abandoned, but in its stead are jagged, spikey rockers like "Trouble" and "Spill It" that blaze out of the speakers. When the quartet does quiet down, as on "It Gets Dark", the result is a tense, spooky ballad.

Proudly rockist in its adherence to the basic guitar-drums-bass-vocals line-up, Hot Little Rocket takes its sound one step further on How to Lose Everything. Let's hope the change doesn't prove that title to be accurate.