By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
There can never be enough catchy pop-punk songs about relationships sung by guys in tight pants. Or so goes the assumption made by Fort Worth's The Burning Hotels on their debut full-length, Novels.
Turns out the band might be right, too, even if the songs on this release sound similar to the band's predecessors, chiefly The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, and, locally, Black Tie Dynasty. There are some minor differences, of course: The Burning Hotels appear the first to coin the phrase "sex punk" when describing their own music, and, actually, that term fits quite nicely. If nothing else, it sure is an onslaught; Marley Whistler's thumping bass lines couple with Wyatt Adams' furiously rhythmic drumming to round out quite an attack on the senses.
But at its core, the sound is quite simple: '80s new wave meets today's catchy indie-pop rock. And though The Burning Hotels don't stray too far from the pop-song formula, there's not much need to when you're this good at it. The good, no doubt, comes in the form of Novels' hook-driven harmonies from vocalists/guitarists Chance Morgan and Matt Mooty, who formed the band while in their teens.
Unfortunately, the band's rather strict formula leads to some repetition. And while that translates just fine at a live show, it can be a bit frustrating when listening to the album.
Still, as singles go, Novels boasts its share: "Austin's Birthday" and "Boy or Girl" are the obvious treats thanks to their earworm appeal, but the whirling "Time" might be the most sonically interesting track out of all of them.
In the end, it's all about a simple enjoyment here: Only one of Novels' songs checks in at over four minutes long, so just try not to think too hard about them.