I’ve spent the past 2 days listening and have loved reading these reviews prior and during my listening pleasure. On the whole I love this album — such a different experience from the former two in the trilogy. I'm not hearing any Stuart Price vibes at all really, which is surprising. I thoroughly love the overall lush/analog/hifi feel, and firmly believe it explores new sonic territory whilst staying connected to and committed to PSB standards and soundscapes.
As far as my ratings go below, for context a few examples of 10/10 for me would be Left to my own devices, I’m not scared, The way it used to be, Inside a dream, Love is bourgeois construct, King’s Cross, and Integral (there are more 10s for me of course but this is just a variety!).
Wow what an opener! When I awoke yesterday at 7 AM, like a kid on Christmas morning, I put on my headphones and experienced this as my wake up call at full volume! DAMN. This is my favourite track on the album. It’s absolutely everything I love about PSB — intense, thrilling, exciting chord changes, a complex story/character, and all those electronic atmospheric elements. A gold standard of PSB goodness, on par with the full-on wall of sound perfection that is Integral. Oh and at 3:08 into the track, what a glorious chord-stab nod to Inside a dream!
You are the one
Absolutely splendid second track and comedown after the manic momentum of the opener. I have already assigned this beautiful song to my husband and have sang it to him. I love Neil’s voice here and the sound really feels lush. A particular highlight is the middle bit at 2:20, when the song fades into an analog dream with the piano that eventually creeps back to its full aural glory. It’s almost like you drift into dreamland, which Neil and Years & Years will tell us about later in the album journey. Personally I can’t wait to hear this song on vinyl.
Lots of positive response on the forum about this one. I am very drawn in with the first (and last) 30 seconds…at first I thought the song would sound much different than it actually does, and I wish that those 30 seconds would have lasted much longer and been explored more fully. I think it’s a good PSB track, it sort of reminds me of a lost cousin of Metamorphosis. Really like the key/chord changes. I appreciate the expected HappySad approach to the lyrics, but the synthesized “Peeeeeople….happpppy peeeeeople” at 1:56 kinda gets under my skin and not in a good way. Gives me One and one make five vibes in the context of the album.
Agreed with most here about how this track feels situated correctly within the running order on the album. Although I do like the song, my fondness has faded even more since hearing all of Hotspot. It was the right choice for a single though, and the duet is compelling. The bass line is SO good, and gets better with each listen. Lyrically I love it within the context of the album as well.
Hoping for a miracle
Such a moody opening, and the wobbly vocoder and synths that slide in at the start are so vintage and cool. Again I can’t get over how great Neil’s voice sounds here. A lovely mellow track, and one of their better ballads. And also a great description of this character in the lyrics. I can see many people relating to this — it’s almost the sad denouement of the life depicted of the character in Twenty-something.
I don’t wanna
What a fun funky track. I read someone’s review about how they didn’t like the warpy synths but I think they make the song. Neil’s vocals sound so good double-tracked on the verses. And the drums here are light and fluffy. The middle bit around 2:00 is yet another great use and variation of that vocoder sound that pops in now and again. I could see this being a single. And the lyric — "In a song he hears that rhythm’s a dancer and it won’t take no for an answer” — is PSB witty brilliance. I love when Neil references other artist’s songs, like in another “wanna” song, I want to wake up: "I stood at the kitchen sink, my radio played songs like 'Tainted Love' and 'Love Is Strange’, as I listened and the words hit my ears I cried sudden tears.” So so good.
I was initially put off by this track, particularly with Neil’s shouty voice a la The former enfant terrible's “gimme a bandwagon and I’ll jump on it” lyric, which is one of my most despised PSB moments. However the song absolutely has grown on me, to the point now where it is easily one of my faves on the album, if not one of my faves in general. A classic for sure. And wow — the video! — now that’s what I’m talking about. What a surprise and an extraordinarily rambunctious complement to the song. As has been said, Chris’ dancing could not be more amazing, especially as his reclusive nature has become even more intense over the years.
Only the dark
Instant classic. Gorgeous melodies, sound, lyrics. Definitely in love with it. My only 2 sonic gripes — first, at 0:36 the snare drum kicks in more fully, but then drops again, then pops back again at 1:10. They should have kept it minimally kicking on every other beat until 1:10! It continues to be inconsistent throughout the track. My other annoyance is the fade out! Way way way too quick and early. This song needs to breathe, and should be 5 minutes at least. If these two things were corrected this track would be in 10/10 territory for me.
Burning the heather
This track has fully grown on me, and I love it even more now in the album. This complete version is better. I think this could have been the album closer. I don’t think it should have been a single but what is a single really these days? Definitely one of their stronger ballads and the guitar is a perfect accompaniment. Also love the trumpet bit.
Wedding in Berlin
I’m not sure why this song is getting so much hate. I think it’s kind of a fun and odd way to end the album. I actually quite like the wedding march bits and the bass line is superb. Very Chris Lowe. And the track has made me reflect on my own wedding from 2018 and you better believe that had this song been out, I would have played it on the dance floor during the reception, especially given my friends and family’s full awareness of my PSB obsession! (My husband and I opted to do our first dance to Madonna’s Vogue). Anyway, I like Wedding in Berlin. Would definitely prefer it as a b-side and not the album closer.
All said, what a refreshing and unique way to end the Stuart Price trilogy. Never would have expected this sound from him. As for where Hotspot sits in my ranking of PSB albums, I’ll need to give it more listens to determine that, but it’s confidently in the middle for sure. (To see my full ranking, visit my dedicated PSB page and scroll down a bit).
Total score: 7.3/10
Keep the reviews coming, dear Petheads! These moments come around only once every few years and I love soaking them up!