Sahara Hotnights

Kiss & Tell (RCA)

These Swedish Jennie bombs came to American attention in 2002 as the female counterpart to the Hives, whose front man Howlin' Pelle Almqvist dates lead Hotnight Maria Andersson. On their kick-ass third album, the Saharas get away from that easy comparison, sharpening the hooks in their wily garage-pop tunes and smoothing out their frayed edges with a shiny production job that would've suited Pat Benatar or Blondie back when Andersson and her bandmates were busy being born. You'll wonder why the band resisted this kind of makeover 'til now: "Stay/Stay Away" has a cool keyboard line that feels like cruising Friday night for hot guys, and "Who Do You Dance For?" is heavy with the kind of back-seat drama that seems life-threatening and meaningless at the same time. All of Kiss & Tell is like that: trash-culture transmissions spiffed up for a scrape toward pop permanence.

 
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