Surgeons In Heat
Milwaukee/Madison outfit Surgeons In Heat is the rare dance band that is perfectly unfit for dancing. Not that the group’s slithering grooves and crooning come-ons couldn’t pack a sweaty dance floor in a heartbeat—it’s just that they seem better suited to the long, post-party chill-out than to the party itself. On their new self-titled, full-length album—a combo of the recent Midnight At Bellevue EP and a self-titled EP from 2011—Surgeons In Heat stake their claim as the area’s premier purveyors of funky, laid-back soul. And in a state currently deep in the throes of garage-rock and indie-folk kicks, it’s amazing how fresh that sound can feel.
The brief “Addressed To Me” starts things off nicely with a series of insistent snare and single-note guitar hits. From there, it’s all chiming guitar stabs, rubbery bass lines, and pitch-perfect falsetto vocals. The stellar “Never Noticed” dials things down to a medium-cool chill, while “The Price” and “Can’t Do No Right” stand out as effortless and funky pop gems. But the band scores plenty of points when it takes a break from the dance floor. Album highlight “Flying Away” is a gauzy, straightforward head-nodder filled with flawless hooks and plenty of winsome “ooh-ooh-ooh”s preceding the chorus. Though a few of the tracks coast by too easily, it’s a testament to the band’s songwriting chops that it can accomplish so much in such a narrow setup of guitar, bass, and drums.
But are Surgeons In Heat for real? Questions of authenticity have dogged countless retro-minded bands in the past; think the great Jon Spencer Blues Explosion debates of the mid-’90s. Happily, we live in a more permissive—some might say “enlightened”—age when groups as unabashedly studious as The Black Keys can become superstars. Authenticity is moot; if you can pull it off, then you’re good to go. Surgeons In Heat pull off their stripped-down soul without breaking a sweat.
Surgeons In Heat celebrate the release of their album April 27 at Turner Hall.