With Hot Thoughts, indie pop slash art rock outfit Spoon come through with their ninth album, another dive into fresh and funky indie rock with hints of electronica and psychedelia. Hot Thoughts is the sort of album that harks back to the mid-2000s, where innovative indie pop-rock projects like Phoenix and the Strokes ruled the airwaves – this album has that sort of flavour about it, but rather than recycle, Spoon put their own spin on things. None of the fresh ideas on Hot Thoughts are obscured by a lack of catchiness, and the end result is a satisfying album where you’ll feel like you know the songs on the first listen, but they’ll also sound new too.
Opening title track Hot Thoughts may start slow, but quickly slides into the sort of carefree indie rock vibe and loose poppy groove that dominates this album. Hot Thoughts is simply such a well paced album, going from song to song with captivating guitar riffs and undeniably danceable rhythms. First Caress is one of those straightforward tracks that you can’t help but bop along to, drawing equally from psychedelic pop and the dance-punk craze of the 2000s. But Spoon go further than producing predictable songs – it’s the little things like dissonant piano decrescendos beneath the beat that add an element of surprise.
Spoon don’t just stick to the base elements of indie rock, but venture into those more experimental areas of art and electronic rock. Tracks like Do I Have to Talk You Into It feature these amazing underlying synthesisers that add to the lushness of the typical guitar / piano / drums hybrid that works so well. Britt Daniel’s vocal performance almost has this britpop like quality about it, a very attitude laden delivery that glides over instrumentation to match.
On Can I Sit Next to You, Spoon go all disco on a tight four-to-the-floor beat, a funky guitar line, and these lush synthesisers that sounds like a 21st century indie rock reinterpretation of Parliament-Funkadelic and the electro era. Despite these constant deviations into new ideas, Hot Thoughts is a cohesive album from start to finish. In only ten tracks, Spoon go from glitzy art rock on a song like WhisperI’lllistentohearit, onto subdued electronica in places like Pink Up, and then onto a piano driven pop rock anthem with Tear it Down.
Momentum rarely lets up on Hot Thoughts, although there are certainly moments where the band could have tightened things up. I Ain’t the One seems almost out of place on the album, especially nestled in between the forward motions of Can I Sit Next to You and Tear it Down. It’s slow and dreary, suffering from a severe lack of ideas. Spoon save the most uninteresting tracks for last, with the decent garagey synth rock of Shotgun coming second to last, and finally closing out the album with the ambient brass piece Us. These tracks are far from awful, and it’s not like you’d skip them either, but they drop the momentum and motion of Hot Thoughts without resolution.
Hot Thoughts proves to be a diamond in the rough world of indie rock, harking back to the past while also looking forward to new ideas. It’s a satisfying Spoon record that, while it may have loose ends, is a worthwhile listen for any fans of innovative artsy rock.