Sahara Hotnights

Kiss & Tell (RCA)

The ice-capped regions of Scandinavia have experienced a major rock renaissance in the past decade with the Hellacopters, Hives, Soundtrack of Our Lives, and countless other bands who adhere to the rock-as-salvation formula. Sahara Hotnights represent the female division of this insurgence, and their first album, Jennie Bomb, was compared favorably to the Donnas when it came out in 2002. Since that time, the band has moved into major-label waters with Kiss & Tell.

From the opening notes of "Who Do You Dance For?" the changes wrought by the major-label sponsorship are instantly apparent as sinewy threads of synth are woven through the rock-hard firmament. Whereas the previous album was distinct in its raw and unbridled intensity, Kiss & Tell, while still packed with intense riffing, sounds like a much more calculated salvo.

They haven't forgotten their rock roots totally: Chuck Berry guitar adorns the intro of "Nerves," a jittery rocker that lives up to its name and would've fit well on the first album. Handclaps on "Walk on the Wire" are a nice touch, and Maria Andersson's vocals are one of the strong points of the LP. Admittedly, it's a pretty irresistible formula: the Cars-style synth on "Stay/Stay Away," the playful Benatarian vamp of "The Difference Between Love and Hell." Hell, if the Runaways had thought of this, they could've actually been a hit instead of just legends in their own time. -- Joe S. Harrington

 
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