Being self-aware as an artist requires a special sense of understanding, and reflection of one’s individuality. It is an ability possessed by few musical acts. Embracing all creative aspects of past, present, and future material.
For Austin rock outfit Spoon, however, it is a mindfulness that appears to come naturally. A profound vigilance proven by a track-record of consistent and exceptional recordings, throughout their two decade career. While en route to similar acclaim, their latest full-length album goes a few steps further. Spoon’s ‘Hot Thoughts’ is an album brimming with confidence, deep introspection, sonic symphonies, and multi-genre artistry. It is an album that draws upon many influences, including some of their very own.
Combining their roots from their 1996 debut album ‘Telephono’ with Matador Records, and their contemporary co-production of their 2014 ‘They Want My Soul’ with David Fridman, their ninth installment bridges together two different spectrums of the band’s ever-evolving discography. Yet, it still sounds more refreshing, experimental and dynamic. Always in classic Spoon fashion.
The dance-pop, groovy opener ‘Hot Thoughts’ lays the framework for the album’s exploratory direction. With its funky guitar riffs, infectious swagger, and electronic/melodic phrasing, the title-track bursts with a new and powerful vitality. Britt Daniel’s lyrics carry a sense of urgency, like a manic passage or train of thought. His sharp, falsetto voice, recalls delightfully back to 2002’s “I Turn My Camera On.” ‘WhisperIllistentohearit,’ blends a mixture of dream-pop elements, Eno’s pulsating drum beats, post-punk bass-lines and textures of keyboard and tambourines in the background. Tracks like the industrial rock-like ‘Do I Have To Talk You Into It?’ and the catchy indie rock ‘First Caress,’ highlight Daniel’s raspy vocals and Alex Fischel’s willingness to experiment with dissonance and chromatic patterns on the keyboard.
Featuring soothing sounds of vibraphones, synths, and humming background vocals, ‘Pink Up’ has all the feel of a ‘Hot Thoughts’ interlude. The mellow tune builds progressively throughout the track with both softer and sharper layers of instrumentation. Steel drums and and electronic loops intertwine seamlessly in a cascade of traditional and more modern characteristics, respectively. Next, the funkiest song ‘Can I Sit Next to You’ is full of attitude and 80’s flair . ‘I Ain’t the One’, however, features a more darker, intense, and stripped down arrangements in a minor key.
Soulful ‘Tear it Down’ is the band’s most cohesive cut, with them playing together rather than in sequence heard in the previous tracks. The last two include the up-tempo and heavy guitar riffed ‘Shotgun,’ and five-minute finale ‘Us’ reprises the main loop in ‘Pink Up.’ With glimmering effects and avant-garde jazz elements, the album ends in Spoon’s beautiful and melodic conclusion.
‘Hot Thoughts’ is another triumph by delivered Spoon. It shows the band’s ability to captivate fans in new ways, and continue to brand their own, unique sound.