Hearing Aide: Spoon ‘Hot Thoughts’

After what felt like an eternity, Austin-based indie rock band Spoon returns on St. Patrick’s Day with their ninth full-length album, entitled Hot Thoughts. They haven’t released a full album since their 2014 masterpiece They Want My Soul, which contains some of the best silver in Spoon’s musical vault. The gold goes to their 2007 record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which not only has some noteworthy songs, but truly put them on the map towards success and credibility as songwriters.

This new 10-track release on Matador Records drives the band in quite a millennial-type of electronica direction, while maintaining the same pure frustration of garage punk that made us fall in love in the first place. Songs like “I Ain’t the One,” “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” “Shotgun,” and the title track “Hot Thoughts,” can only be described as disco punk, with a driving rhythm section featuring bassist Rob Pope and drummer Jim Eno, that feels easy to dance to. Add in synthesizer effects that not only compliment a willful resistance, but also engage in a transient, almost Beatles-comparable element to balance out the aggression. Spoon properly confuses the listener, tossing in sample bits and adding artistic effect pedals to give each instrument its own voice and purpose.

Sprinkled throughout the album, in tracks like “Pink Up” and the final song “Us,” Spoon throws us some instrumental curve balls, featuring cameo appearances from a strings section and a mysterious saxophone solo. In their sexiest tune and pre-released single “Can I Sit Next to You,” we hear a sarangi-sounding pitch bend technique by synth guru Alex Fischel. The arguably best song on the album, “Do I Have to Talk You Into It,” bestows upon us a somber intonation in singer and guitarist Britt Daniel’s voice, as almost a means of inner disapproval. The song’s lyrics are hard to pin to a particular event or substance, but its dark descriptions certainly contrast the overall uplifting feel of the song. Once again, this band tricks us into calling them a punk band, and then convincing us that they can do rock (and even jazz) just as easily. To say this band parallels the indie rock genre isn’t completely accurate, as they are always dipping their feet into deep musical waters, and surfacing with sensibilities similar to Trent Reznor, John Lennon, Chris Martin, and Miles Davis to create a multitude of concepts. This album shows us that Spoon is going in a new direction, but they remain true to their roots. This album features electric guitars, xylophones, honky-tonk pianos, strings, saxophones, and sampling experiments that mock existing ideas, while also creating new ones. This album represents the ‘hot thoughts’ that have been stirring in the brain of Spoon, and this album meets and exceeds expectations of anyone who listens to Spoon, or ‘indie rock’ in general.

Just in time, Spoon is touring their way around the country, conveniently making stops in NYC for the annual Panorama Festival, followed by an appearance at the XPoNential Festival in Camden, NJ. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit Spoon’s band page.

You can hear the full album on Spoon’s Soundcloud.

Key Tracks: Hot Thoughts, I Ain’t the One, Do I Have to Talk You Into It