Hotline TNT - Protocol

Cartwheel, the new album by Hotline TNT on Jack White’s Third Man Records, has the distinction of being one of Pitchfork Media’s picks for best new music. While I’m not always in sync with the writers of that particular publication on what’s fresh, I have to agree with their decision in this case.

Though Cartwheel occasionally relents in tempo and density, it’s extremely loud at all volumes, a force multiplier for the saddest secrets of its source material—power-pop love songs in love with the concept of love as learned from other power-pop songs about the same thing.

I hear the power pop reference in the material. I also hear a sort of Midwest emo meets shoegaze blend that is surprisingly (to these ears, at least) effective. The album kicks off with Protocol,” which is as good a showcase as any for the powers of this band. Noisy, melodic and dynamic, the song revels in the strengths that Hotline TNT brings to the table.

My only possible complaint with this album would be that it does rarely relent. The intensity that carries the songs hardly allows you to catch your breath. Be forewarned, there is enough fuzz here to potentially damage those bluetooth speakers you bought at Walmart.

Hotline TNT played at Hospscotch this year, but I had no awareness of them and missed the show. My brother went, and I’m a bit resentful that he didn’t tell me about them then.

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