Once nearly lost to time, Minneapolis five piece Hot Freaks resurfaced nearly a decade after disbanding when their ten year old single, Puppy Princess, finally found an audience on TikTok and what was to-date only an obscure gem exploded into a bonafide viral hit.
At the time the five Freaks, frontman Leo Vondracek, guitarist Darin Dahlmeier, bassist Sarah Darnall, drummer Cody Brown, and keyboardist Celeste Heule, were already pondering a reunion show, but the new droves of devoted online acolytes demanded a full fledged tour alongside similar pop-rock phenomenons the Rare Occasions.
Like remembering how to ride a bike, the Freaks have effortlessly returned to full form, prepping a forthcoming tour with the Happy Fits with fresh jams uncovered from ancient times circa 2013, and new compositions from the present day.
Sophomore smash, HOT FREAKS FOREVER, ironically named for a band that once broke up, or perhaps presciently named for a fated comeback, is a jubilant addition to the Freaks’ discography that feels like a victory lap. Tapping into their long history, these 10 new tracks collect unreleased early works along with freshly minted music perfectly embodying their signature, high gloss dancy disco pop, with radiant notes of MGMT, Of Montreal, the Carpenters, and Mitski.
Lead single, LET’S START A COUNTRY, is one example of an unearthed artifact from the band’s earlier days. A treasure from a time capsule, having gestated for about 10 years, the infectious synth pop serenade has finally “found its home” as frontman Leo Vondracek puts it. Floating an unusual proposition, the track resurrects Hot Freaks’ familiar sound mixing toe-tapping disco beats with tongue-in-cheek sincerity. Kicking off with a fun little “whoo!” LET’S START A COUNTRY imagines a vegetarian utopia where lovers “living in a vacuum” start a country as easy as “one two three,” yet once the song’s narrator does “a little research” it “turns out you can’t just do this type of thing/ in fact it’s kinda regulated.” Despite the harsh light of reality, Hot Freaks’ uniquely catchy qualities, percussively perfect shakers, and preciously earnest handclaps, weave a wonderfully daydreamy ode to the romantic ideal of escaping into the paradise of a person you love more than the whole wide, and unfortunately real, world.
As the album progresses, the Freaks start to get a little freakier, playing with personas like a makeover montage in an 80’s movie. Track six, catchy as all get out love song, BOYFRIEND, imagines a college age romance embodying the voice of a smitten co-ed reflecting on her beau who dozes in bed while she prepares for not just her day, but a future that likely won’t include him. “I want to get out east next spring/ while you’re still dreaming” coos Vondracek, explaining, “the boyfriend isn’t going places, she is.” Bassist Sarah Alfano adds “It’s kinda like a country song cuz she has big dreams, but he’s stuck in the small town, she’ll leave but he’ll always pull on her heart—we’re like that country song too, breaking up the band and going our separate ways just to get back together, but at least we’re touring now.”
Speaking of, don’t be surprised to find yourself spinning HOT FREAKS FOREVER on perpetual repeat. At times almost impossibly precise, slick and savvy, this seductive selection also brings out a beguiling, intoxicating energy that’s as infectious as any impromptu dance party.