Album Review - Heat's "Room" LP

by Derek Cooper

Montreal four-piece Heat has an intentionally apt name for a band from a cold place, and it shows in their sound. Perhaps reveling in the ironic feeling of being in one place and wanting to be somewhere else, the irony is not lost on a band whose Facebook description reads only: “Cooler than hot hot heat”. Heat’s re-issued Rooms (previously a 5 song, self-titled EP) is a seemingly summer fueled, guitar and harmony driven set of seven songs about youth and relationships and self-definition. The album borders between contemplative, almost melancholy--though not nostalgic--and with both feet firmly planted in idealised sun-drenched guitars and nostalgia fueled stream of consciousness crooning reminiscent of Lou Reed.
    Room’s opens with This Life, an immediately optimistic guitar tune with an up-tempo, harmony-fueled drive into the chorus, culminating with singer Susil Sharma exclaiming “I’m fuckin’ free, man”, an affirmation of life felt throughout the balance and production of the song. There’s a visceral awareness of the “now” of the moment, somewhere Heat seems to enjoy spending time in. Next is a bit more down tempo piece sharing the title of the EP. Rooms, a quieter number, is a reflection on things that can occur between two people and four walls. Similar to the way we compartmentalize objects across rooms, the lyrics compartmentalize the singers own experience, wandering, with the help of harmonies, from a musing on a romantic time into “I’m so fucked up and the room keeps spinnin’, I do these things to keep from winnin’, cuz I’m winnin’ in my head.” Throughout Heats EP there is the underlying theme of the moment, the now, and the almost profane realization of that, even in the good times.
    All I Wanna Do picks up the pace, a hooky up tempo mix between 70’s New York punk and The Strokes. “All I wanna do is sit inside my room and put some records on and get fucked up with my friends.” While around now one may start to wonder if the word fuck is Sharma’s favorite word, at this point in the album the tone couldn’t be more clear: the world goes on but the self confidence of youth, even in the face of the quarter life crisis on 25. The opening, a marked slowdown from the song before, is reminiscent of somewhere between Jesus and the Mary Chain and Sonic Youth. The background vocals repeatedly croon “25 at the edge of my life” while talking of “walking down the street in the hangover sunshine” before the realization hits: “I do my best to serve and protect myself, how about you?” Even here the stream of consciousness vocals steer far from nostalgia, though there is a reflective nature to their tone.
    Susufine begins the latter half of the record, an upbeat clamoring guitar number with more distant vocals until the line “And so I took control”, showcasing Heat’s confidence in its own ability to find its soul, despite the general confusion and competition for attention that comes with youth.

Heat’s desire for self-identification that many can relate to gives way by the end of the record with the closer Wild Eyes. The only song to start off with drums, this narcotic song features a droning guitar part with meandering thoughts, “when there’s nothing left to lose but it’s something you still choose and I want to talk to you, just to see those wild eyes”. The song feels almost like a sunny afternoon drive home, one that stops you in the driveway, filling you with thoughts of what once was, but still majoritively filled with the need to see what’s yet to come. While a slightly imbalanced EP, Rooms serves Heat well, expanding on their previous release with these two extra songs (This Life, All I Wanna Do), and further honing in their realized style. Those that like their sunny sounds mostly free from the chains of impending adulthood, as well as those who are partial to shoegaze sounds mixed with slightly psychedelic guitar lead Americana would do well to tread through Heat’s Rooms.

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