Hot Shots II
continues the Beta Band's play with epileptic beats and creepy melodies as they again rearrange a record collection stocked with Pink Floyd, Talk Talk, the Beatles, and the full Astralwerks catalog. A clipped toy piano inspires a shiver on "Al Sharp" while the swirling synth of "Eclipse" recalls Brian Eno's contribution to the Trainspotting
soundtrack (which the Beta Band would have dominated were the movie made two years later). The album's deep-bass sounds and obvious craft are arresting, but attempts at the band's cleverness or playfulness expose seams that would best remain hidden. The lyrics of "Eclipse" falter through a satirical allegory of politics, concluding with "the people with the answers," "the people with the questions," and "the people with the books" sitting down to "smoke a pizza pie." While almost every song contains layers of crackling vinyl, laser, or toy-piano effects, it's only in the closing hip-hop version of Harry Nilsson's "One" that the sounds neatly meld. Newcomers to the Beta Band should start with The Three E.P.'s
, but old fans will find Hot Shots II
a better second full-length than 1999's self-titled release. --Sarah Sternau
Hot Shots II is the quartet's most accomplished work: folksy, futuristic, dubbed-out atmospherics and off-kilter pop. Think Beck meets Lee Perry meets Pink Floyd meets RZA meets Beatles. This U.S. version features an exclusive track. 11 tracks. 2001 release.