Sahara Hotnights–What If Leaving Is a Loving Thing
For their fourth time out, Sahara Hotnights comes at us with an almost completely new sound. The single “Cheek To Cheek” promises a pop-minded, more dance-conscious side to the group. With its galloping beat and saxophone breakdown, it is the pinnacle of the band’s career so far. And nothing on their new album, What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing, can match it.
Far from the rockier sound the group has ridden with to success in the past, Leaving attempts to show a more mature side. Embracing elements of roots music, country and 80’s pop, most of the songs are interesting experiments for the girls. Opener “Visit To Vienna” is an unqualified success, a rollicking stomper that sounds like nothing they have ever done while retaining the simple catchiness of past material. Other tracks are a bit more subdued, which is surprising for a band that used to be so boisterous. And, while everything sounds technically great, there just aren’t enough melodies that really entrench themselves deeply enough to prove memorable. Of the new rootsy sound (which suits the band surprisingly well), “Salty Lips” is definitely the standout, a back porch sing-along perched somewhere between Pat Benatar and the Dixie Chicks. The record loses a lot of its punch in its final third, though. “Puppy” and “Static” are about as boring as their titles, while album closer “If Anyone Matters It’s You” is Leaving’s most ineffective ballad.
While What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing tries on a new sound for Sahara Hotnights, it also seems to have forgotten that new sounds still require great songs. They’ve got at least three here, “Cheek To Cheek” being an absolute classic, and the rest comes dangerously close to filler. One can hope that this is just a transitional album and they’ll kick it into high gear next time.