Have you ever loved an album so much that the thought of its follow-up sucking haunted your dreams? For me, the importance that Caution has taken on since its release pretty much meant that I was going to fear The New What Next more than anticipate it. After all, Hot Water Music had defied all expectations on Caution by proving that they were still capable of turning out gut wrenching, rough-n-gruff, emotive brawn at its best after a decade in the game. How were they going to top the best album of their career?
Miraculously, The New What Next does just that. Recorded in what the band describes as "the easiest sessions of their lives," it amazingly matches Caution's dazzling melodic hooks, warm production, and explosive playing wrapped Tokyo-subway-tight. And just like its monumental predecessor, it also one-ups "reinventing the wheel": it makes a time-proven formula (honest, heartfelt punk rock) sound refreshing and exciting. How, you ask? Simply by being more creative with accentuations, instrumental interplay, poetic prose, and (of course) harmonies and vocal lines. Good songs are good songs, no matter how "within a genre" they are, right? Well, Hot Water Music have distilled all that is moving, celebratory, rousing, effectual, and infectious about punk rock into a smart-yet-relatable piece of art. The muscles in the fantastically choreographed and executed playing are only matched by the big hearts with which guitarist/vocalists Chris Wollard and Chuck Ragan use as engines.
Caution's place is my life grew with each spin because of how loud it made my entire body sing. The New What Next has strengthened those intangible vibrations even deeper into my loyalty for this band. Join the chorus and you too will come to know its power.
By Tim Den