That Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles come from a folk-driven background is clear enough at many points on Heat, and if they stayed in that realm, the album would be more pleasant than anything else. But Heat captures the band after a rethink of approach that brings in electricity and increasingly intriguing arrangements, and the result is a much more remarkable and hard-to-categorize effort. The opening track "Just a Kid" helps show how there's a sense of actual dynamic on Heat, Lucy Michelle's singing taking the lead over a country-rock-nodding arrangement that fires things up enjoyably from the start. A lot of this can be ascribed to the guitarist/bassist combination of Matt Latterell, Jesse Schuster, and Liz Draper -- "Just a Kid" alone has a bit of snarling feedback, steel guitar dreaminess, and so forth. But there's also rave-up energy, a melodramatic ending -- which immediately shifts into the equally sharp start of "West," which burns like a sharp early-'90s alt-rock hit just enough. Elsewhere, the clean, brisk start of "Million Things" has Michelle's vocals matching then softly sweeping through the arrangement, ghostly swift chants lurking in the mix toward the end. If there's a sense of the band still finding its way in this changed approach, there's still style, energy, and a good way around how to use subtlety to its advantage. It's not that "Undone" isn't an unfamiliar rocker, but the energy and feeling are almost of post-punk nerviness -- especially on the break, with dark strings and distant feedback shudders leading the way -- in the guise of a rough-and-ready hoedown. The accordion on "Catacombs" and upfront plucking at the heart of "Puget Sound" are other strong stand-out moments on a fine release.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett