You’re 13 years old, and Sahara Hotnights is the only band you want to play your roller-skating birthday bash. Countless hours have been logged imagining exactly how the girls will storm into the rink, hijacking the DJ booth, kicking the five-disc changer to bits with pointy suede boots, leather fringe slapping everywhere, guitar strings flying. And then, when the Hotnights’ raucous, New Wave-meets-Poison finally starts gushing from the speakers, and all the boys in too-cool rollerblades are crashing into padded walls, disarmed and bewildered, you’ll just keep on whirling backwards, executing perfect figure eights, the streamers from your party hat soaring long and proud.
Kiss & Tell, Sahara Hotnights’ third full-length, is the soundtrack to every Lindsay Lohan movie never made, loaded down with epic tales of bad love and adolescent redemption, tight jeans and too-long bangs. Like all proper teen heroines, the girls in Hotnights are friendly but empowered, howling their brash-but-catchy melodies, slamming their instruments, and hitting like an edgier Go-Go’s (or sassed-up Bangles), complete with the requisite fade-outs and coy backing vocals (see the absurdly addictive sing-along “The Difference Between Love and Hell”). The Hotnights are incessantly compared to fellow Swedes The Hives (lead vocalist Maria Andersson has been dating strutting Hives frontman Pelle Amquvist, and Kiss & Tell was expertly produced by Hives mastermind Pelle Gunnerfeldt), but the comparison rarely holds up as anything more than convenient. Alternately sneering and giggly, the Hotnights are more Runaways than Stooges, a party band for kids who actually like to dance.