All In My Mind And All Of The Time: Spoon – Hot Thoughts Review


There have been a number of popular indie rock bands that have been lovingly (or deridingly depending on who you talk to) labeled “dad rock” – a title given to older bands who put out a consistent stream of quality albums that are dependably good (nothing more and nothing less). While bands like Yo La Tengo and The National come to mind (the latter having a full Billboard article written about this distinction), no other band has been carrying this title quite like Austin-based indie rock band, Spoon. Spoon has been kicking for over two decades now, and while their discography hasn’t reinvented the indie rock wheel, all of their albums are still quality listens. With that being said, their new record, Hot Thoughts, is a surprising album. After a successful two decades worth of music, Spoon could have come out with an album like their acclaimed 2014 release They Want My Soul as a victory lap of sorts. However, Hot Thoughts sees the band with a newfound energy and an album that is their most playful, emotional, and experimental yet.

In terms of sound, Spoon has been known for some fantastic grooves (look no further than “Me and the Bean” from Girls Can Tell and “Eddie’s Ragga” from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga), but no groove in their discography has been as danceable as the one on the title track which starts off the record on a high note. The groove, the bells underlying the beat, and the layered sections of instrumentation (such as the violins near the end of the track) is like a kickstart to the heart and shows right away that the band isn’t set on making another conventional indie rock record. This newfound experimentation continues on album highlight “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” who’s first-half features a tasteful, low-key brooding that’s highly reminiscent of Spoon’s discordant “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Songs like “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and “First Caress” both feature some enjoyable piano-laden rock along with interesting electronic elements that add another layer of variation and flourish to their tried-and-true formula. But none of the tracks here exemplify Spoon’s goal for experimentation as much as the songs “Pink Up” and “Us.” “Pink Up” is a moody slow-burn that features a prominent xylophone melody and flourishes of warped vocal samples from frontman Britt Daniels. On the weirder “Us,” the band sees fit to end the record with a four-minute instrumental jazz track which builds upon the xylophone motif from “Pink Up.” It’s something that you could hear as an interlude in an instrumental post-rock album, definitely not from a band like Spoon. It’s spacey, wild, moody, and gutsy. I was definitely put off at first listen, but subsequent playthroughs definitely helped solidify the song’s place in the track listing.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Spoon purists shouldn’t be put off by the new sounds of the record. There are definitely vintage-Spoon songs such as “First Caress” and Tear It Down.” “Can I Sit Next To You” is an energized Spoon track that sounds like they listened to Rolling Stone’s Some Girls (especially “Miss You”) before they hit the studio. If I had a major gripe with the album, I would highlight “Shotgun” as being a weak song in the track listing, especially since it feels awkward as a transition to the album’s closer. As far as vocal performance and lyrics go, Britt Daniels hasn’t sounds so spirited in years. Whereas frontmen like Matt Berninger from The National find ways to sing without putting too much strain in their voice after years of wear-and-tear, Britt Daniels’ voice is still as dynamic and pleasing as ever.

Spoon is a road-tested band that continues to show that they are capable of staying around for many years more. You would think a twenty-plus-year band would begin to sound drab, but Spoon, with every release, prove capable of putting out fantastic records that sound modern in any age and do so with extreme fervor. I would highly recommend this album to fans and novices alike.

Recommended Tracks: “Hot Thoughts,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” and “WhisperI’lllistentohearit”

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