After years of wanting to forget the hideous clothes, music, and politics of the 1980s, the kitsch and cool of that era are once again embraced through music, so hooray for the second coming of candied synth beats and chunky guitar riffs à la the Killers, the Hives, and Franz Ferdinand. Sweden's Sahara Hotnights get in on the game with their second album, Kiss & Tell. Produced by Fireside songwriter/Hives engineer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, Kiss & Tell is much more approachable and playful compared to the band's 2002 debut, Jennie Bomb. The slick punk edges of "Fire Alarm" and "On Top of Your World" are replaced with glossy pop touches and a polish that would make the Go-Go's, Cheap Trick, and Big Star blush with pride for what they created two decades before. Vocalist Maria Andersson finally shines as a singer; she's vocally focused in her delivery while the harmonies coming from the Asplund sisters are equally fine-tuned, making Kiss & Tell fun right from the start. From the brassy cheers of "Hot Night Crash" and "Who Do You Dance For?" to the foxy Runaways-like impression of "Walk on the Wire," the energy of Kiss & Tell seduces you to twist your hips like never before. The kaleidoscopic twang of "Nerves" combines '70s Detroit rock with doo wop threads for a fantastic corroboree. Sahara Hotnights simply intended to make an album that's dance-crafty; however, those who adored the punk aesthetic and its unapologetic stance on Jennie Bomb might balk at their attempt. Kiss & Tell comes off a bit contrived and lackluster in the beginning, but after a few spins you'll grasp (and thirst) for its sonic goodness. For a sophomore record, Sahara Hotnights did what made sense for them without concerning themselves with the politics of it all. It's a solid album, stylistically more friendly but not necessarily mind-blowing. They're making progress and so far, so good.
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AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson