Spoon

Hot Thoughts

Matador

Mar 17, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Some ideas are repeated a million times for a good reason. Take, for instance, the line about how easy it is to take a new Spoon album for granted. When a band releases four near-perfect records in a row, from Girls Can Tell in 2001 to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in 2007, even an excellent record like 2010's Transference (which is better than people gave it credit for at the time) can start to suffer due to the band's remarkable consistency. The group returned in 2014 with They Want My Soul, and received a warm welcome complete with "we didn't realize how much we missed you" sentiment. Hot Thoughts is album number nine, and like the preceding eight, it's a case study in near-perfect craftsmanship, solid songwriting and nuanced production. It also sounds simultaneously more like They Want My Soul and unlike anything else the band has made before.

The response to Transference showed how listeners can punish a sure-handed band for straying from exactly what it did on a blockbuster record. Its occasional lo-fi piano, or suddenly clipped and sheared vocals, sounded like purposeful jabs at expectations from a band that would only reveal a loose thread if it was intended to be seen. With Hot Thoughts, Spoon experiments in an opposite direction, taking the exactness of They Want My Soul and extending it to its logical conclusion. This is the closest to pure pop Spoon has ever ventured, with much of the album lurching towards some of the outright danciest music it's recorded since "I Turn My Camera On."

But Hot Thoughts is no game-changer, and the band risks sounding as safe as Coldplay at times, especially during the first half of the album's longest song, "Pink Up." Delicate marimbas float over a subdued four-on-the-floor dance beat as Britt Daniel intones a radio-repetitious chorus. Sometimes taking a risk for pop can sound like no risk at all, especially with a band that sounds as effortless as Spoon. But if history repeats itself, in seven years Hot Thoughts might look as good in the review mirror as Transference does now. (www.spoontheband.com)

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