Sahara Hotnights – Jennie Bomb (JetSet)

I can’t get Sahara Hotnights’s album loud enough. I’m constantly turning it up. The comparisons to the Donnas are going to stick and it’s not a bad thing. Sahara Hotnights have got the big, fist-in-the-air chants and explosive riffing. But SH have more texture in their songs. Armed with two guitarists, Sahara Hotnights often mix a charging rhythm guitar with a squeaky lead. The mix is dynamic and often reminiscent of 70s cock rock (T-Rex and Thin Lizzy come to mind). Maybe it’s the European element. SH hail from Sweden. They also do the clean/dirty guitars quite a bit (as opposed to the Donnas who are just on all the time). The simple but effective guitar work and the vague accent in the vocals bring favorable Elastica comparisons to mind as well.

One listen to the record is probably all it takes to get their choruses burned into your brain. The reason is pretty obvious. Following the “simple but effective” rule, they don’t go for subtle in their hooks. They know how to punch into the big chorus and they do it. Over and over. On every track. Like an on/off switch. And it works. On repeated listenings (and I’m talking about in one day) it may get a little overused, but for once or twice through, it’s all right.

“With or Without Control” is nothing too hyper but sitting right in the middle of the record, it manages to massage the on/off dynamic into a fresh package. Starting with the two guitars playing off each other, the song is built around Maria Andersson’s snaky vocal. She works it just like the guitars. Like a young Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde, she dances over the line between sexy-and-aloof and horny-and-direct. When she raises the pitch of her voice for the lead-in to the chorus – “Boy, you’re really messing up my mind!” – it’s, well, titilating. Which is to say nothing of the chorus, a perfect, if easy, hook to the song.

“Only the Fakes Survive” is another mid-tempo build-up. The best part about Sahara Hotnights is that you know they’ll deliver. Then there’s “Fall into Line” with its rock riffs and great guitar interplay. And yeh, a big chorus. “We’re Not Going Down” has a rumbling bass line under its verse allowing the guitars to squeak and hum around it and giving Andersson a tense atmosphere for her sultry take-no-shit vocals.

The songs mentioned all appear on the second half of the record, though it’s the first half of the album really sets the tone for riff plus big chorus with chant. “Alright Alright (Here’s my Fist Where’s the Fight?)”; “Keep up the Speed”; “On Top of Your World” — all are big riff, big chorus bruisers. It’s a formula, sure. But it’s a good formula and Sahara Hotnights are clever enough to exploit the formula while keeping their own personality. They can be compared to others, but ultimately, Sahara Hotnights don’t sound like anyone else. You put this record on and they own the next thirty minutes. Enjoy.