Review Summary: The latest from the 23 year old indie rock band is a refreshingly energetic romp; one that tastefully sprinkles its propulsive rhythms with sugary instrumentation.
It’s hard to believe indie rock greats, Spoon, have been around for over 20 years, considering that bands five years their junior are already embarking on “classic” album tours. To put it simply, Spoon has yet to cash in on their "classics" because their latest output, despite the band's age, is still good. Although their last two LPs, Transference
and They Want My Soul
, felt a bit too familiar, it still saw the band staying relevant in a time where many of their contemporaries disappeared into obscurity. Their latest release, Hot Thoughts
, is a refreshing change of pace in that it’s a majorly up-tempo affair that focuses its efforts entirely on mood and groove.
Spoon are no strangers to throwing in a couple of dancey tracks that “hit [you] like a tom” on their albums, but on their latest record they seem to be making it their major. A lot of these up-tempo numbers tastefully sugar its propulsive rhythm with tropical instrumentation, giving the album a pastel colored punch. Just listen to “Last Caress” and “Hot Thoughts” and try not to get up and bust a move (and if you’re me- bust your ass shortly afterwards). In contrast, “Do I Have To Talk You Into It,” slows things down to caveman-like waltz, but is so buried in groove that it'd take a gravedigger to unearth Britt Daniel and company.
On every Spoon album, there’s always at least one song that dedicates itself entirely to atmosphere. These songs employ what I’ve come to coin as the Ghost of You Lingers Method
. Before some knowledge is dropped on your beautiful face, first revisit the Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
classic here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErInkC1q02E
As you can imply, these types of songs are chorus-less, driven by a simple, repetitive melody whose sole purpose is to set a particular mood. As they progress, various instrumentation/vocals will be added in, piece by piece, in such a way that the track ends up feeling much bigger than it did in its outset. “Pink Up” and “Whisper…” employ this method to varying degrees. The latter follows a looped electronic for a while until eventually breaking into conventional guitar/drum interplay, while the former spends its entirety contemplating in its sultry, yet mysterious atmosphere. Nonetheless, interspersing these atmospheric songs between the more conventional ones gives the album a greater space to breathe.
The problems with this record are minimal. There are certain artistic choices that might raise an eyebrow, e.g. the mechanical drumming on “I Ain’t The One,” but they’re easy to look past. The bigger problem comes with the tracks that waste their momentum. “Can I Sit Next To You” would be a funky romp if it wasn't stuck in lyrical limbo, with Daniel forever declaring how he’s going to “get kicks in the night” and “walk a tight rope." “Shotgun” on the other hand, comes up short musically. It gallops with great fervor, but because it doesn’t vary its sounds, does so without a destination in mind.
It doesn’t feel that long ago, I was laying in my bed obnoxiously singing along to “Japanese Cigarette Case,” for what seemed like the billionth time to my Freshman year roommates (sorry Marcus and Brad). Although Hot Thoughts
might not feel as anthemic as some of their greater works, it will still have you playing your favorite tracks on infinite repeat to someone's dismay. Overall, this vibrant, energetic sound is a welcome push in a new direction for the band. Hopefully, it's more than enough to keep them from embarking on that nostalgia tour for another couple of years.