The Red Hot Valentines – Summer Fling

After having teased this bad boy with the three-song EP, Calling Off Today, the Red Hot Valentines make their proper Polyvinyl debut with Summer Fling. The band already had an EP and a full-length released independent of any sort of record label, as well as a split EP with Retro Morning that was released by Double Zero, and this one marks another step in their progression.
Mixing a dash of punk with a whole lot of pop, the Red Hot Valentines have created a sort of high school soundtrack here. Starting with the album’s artwork, which consists of handwritten lyrics and goofy Polaroids packed into a nifty little notebook format complete with lipstick kisses, you’ll quickly find yourself reminiscing about hanging out by your locker in between classes, passing notes to your friends, and calling your least favorite teachers names behind their backs.
Then you have the music itself, complete with lyrics that tell stories that any high school kid can relate to. There are broken hearts, sparks of new romance, carefree summers, and everything in between. The actual tunes accompany those tales perfectly, often filling the listener with the urge to hop into the car, pick up some friends, and head off to that favorite summer hot spot. The powerful synthesizers and catchy guitar riffs are where the endless supply of hooks come from, and the rhythm section walks that perfect line between pummeling and wimpy. The Red Hot Valentines seem to take the format of any comparable pop band, remove any overbearing sense of ego, and replace it with nerdy teenage angst. But these aren’t high school kids writing the songs here, so don’t be mistaken and take this as an immature and foolish effort. The guys actually met years ago in college, and have been working hard ever since. But the garage rock feel of the band’s early days remains to a certain extent, balanced nicely with the sort of production polish a pop band like this needs.
These are songs you sing along to and bob your head in time with, not necessarily because you want to, but because you really have no choice. You could very well pop this into your stereo and decide after a few listens that it isn’t really for you, and that maybe one of your friends would like it better. I say this because there is nothing that really stands out and grabs you, but rather it’s just 10 songs that bounce along at a perfectly average pace. Nonetheless, you will find it somewhat irresistible. If the more pop-friendly companion you later pass the album down to breaks it out a few days later to crank in the car as the two of you are heading out to meet up with some friends, you won’t ask them to turn it off or even turn it down. You’ll just start bobbing your head and singing along again.