When Cobra Starship decided to temper its catchy indie rock with more Eurodisco for its third album, things could have gotten confusing pretty quickly.
Instead, "Hot Mess" (Decaydance / Fueled by Ramen) is the band's most straightforward, poptastic effort yet, as the first single "Good Girls Go Bad," which has already cracked the Top 10, proves.
Singer Gabe Saporta and his pals show they haven't forgotten their roots with the fizzy fun of "Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We're Famous" years ago, brandishing revved-up rhythms, keytar gurgles and a shout-along chorus of "I'm not street, but I do what I gotta do."
This time out, though, they've also added a layer of Justice-styled Eurodisco to "Wet Hot American Summer" that makes it sound like a much-needed bridge between the Warped Tour and the dance floor. That fun hybrid is in "Good Girls Go Bad" as well, a can't-miss collaboration between the band, producer Kevin Rudolf, "American Idol" judge-songwriter Kara DioGuardi and "Gossip Girl" Leighton Meester.
The band does throw in a bit of seriousness, with the lovely "Fold Your Hands Child," which has an early Depeche Mode feel in its verses, and the touching "The Scene Is Dead; Long Live the Scene," which blends hushed vocals with a chorus of new wave prettiness on swooping synths.
"Hot Mess" is like The Killers' "Hot Fuss," only trying to add a better sense of humor and a broader sense of purpose. Cobra Starship succeeds on both counts.
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Cobra Starship sinks its fangs into the pop charts.