Spoon stays strong with 'Hot Thoughts'

Band’s ninth record shows no signs of slowing down

aespooncourtesywikimediacommons

Spoon's latest album delivers for longtime listeners and new fans alike.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Spoon has returned with their ninth and most expansive album yet, “Hot Thoughts.” The Austin, Texas band picks up right where they left off with 2014’s critically acclaimed “They Want My Soul,” combining subtle electronics with their classic indie rock formula. The end result is their best attempt yet at what might be called “garage dance rock” — a happy medium for those who might be overwhelmed by LCD Soundsystem but need a little more edge than The Shins.

Spoon finds themselves once again standing outside confinements of any genre — and also outside any semblance of widespread fame and recognition. Something about their sound — or maybe even their simplistic name — keeps them away from radios and arenas and more in the spectrum of urban dads who over-confidently wear skinny jeans. Maybe because that is exactly what lead singer Britt Daniel looks like, but hidden in plain sight — especially on “Hot Thoughts” — is raw talent that has only sharpened over Spoon’s almost 25-year tenure.

Spoon was around and putting out some of the most consistent rock records before many of today’s popstars were even born. However, it seems that it has taken the band this long to realize they can do whatever they want, which is exactly what they did with “Hot Thoughts.” Initially, the album plays like an older Spoon record transposed onto a series of preset synth beats, but by the end the juxtaposition of genres becomes seamless and complementary.

The second track, “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” begins like a mellow Daft Punk cover but then becomes full head-bopping post-punk by the halfway mark. The album is much more of a rollercoaster than their previous efforts, ranging from the headlining singles “Hot Thoughts” and “Can I Sit Next to You,” to the cacophonous jazz horn arrangement “Us.” 

Nothing goes too far though, and fans of old should rest assured that experimentation does not mean total abandonment. Songs like “First Caress” and “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” have the growls, piano slaps and big snare hits that fit right into Spoon’s overall body of work.

The album even takes a political turn — not much of a surprise in the industry these days — with “Tear It Down.” “Let them build a wall around us / I don’t care I’m gonna tear it down / It’s just bricks and ill intentions / They don’t stand a chance,” Daniel sings in his admittedly first attempt at political commentary.

In the end, Spoon delivers another solid product in “Hot Thoughts.” It won’t reach the top of the charts and it won’t get them the halftime show at the Super Bowl, but it will make fans and first-time listeners equally excited to hit repeat and continue exploring the fresh array of sounds.

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