SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews


Hot Thoughts (Matador)

SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews

First LP for Matador since 1996 debut full-length Telephono, Spoon's ninth album Hot Thoughts draws a pronounced line in the sand. Its sleek, dance-oriented patina veers appreciably from the linear evolution of the Austinites' previous output. This might be Spoon's most radio-friendly release ever, and given its jarring position in the catalog, their most adventurous. The untucked anxiety of Britt Daniel's youthful persona gets upgraded to a tailored tension, his guitar playing assuming a specialized rather than dominant role in arrangements. Meanwhile, drummer Jim Eno's metronomic beats get fully mechanized. These nods to late-night urbanity could have easily come off as ham-fisted hat modeling, but few bands get at a sound's essence more meticulously than Spoon. That key constant keeps Hot Thoughts on point. Opening on a simmering pad of metallic strings, the title track kicks to life when Daniel lets out a Prince-like "Woo!" so unexpected you wonder if it surprised even him. Well-placed interpolations of Bob James hip-hop Mardi Gras bells and an INXS riff flesh out this party-starter. "WhisperI'lllistentohearit" begins with a Tangerine Dream synth pulse that abruptly shifts midstream to an intoxicating, bop-happy beat. Back-alley synth/sax creeper "Do I Have to Talk You Into It" slow rides through a jigsaw noir scene set against Eno's steady, cruise control beat. Kick drum/handclap strut "Can I Sit Next to You" leads off side two with a pitch-shifted Bollywood hook before "I Ain't the One" ushers in a more contemplative mood with a low-end Rhodes piano growl. "Shotgun" renovates the disco-rock structure of Kiss' "I Was Made for Lovin' You" with cleaner sight lines and a hometown name-check for Rock n Roll Rentals. Esoteric instrumental closer "Us" conjures the sleepy netherworld of walking home alone in a city of millions, an apt manner in which to end this 42-minute wild night. (Wed. 15, the Main, 1am; Thu. 16, the Main, 1am)


Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Spoon's <i>Hot Thoughts</i> Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Spoon's Hot Thoughts Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Britt Daniel and Jim Eno talk about the rise of R&B in the band's sound

Tim Stegall, June 2, 2017

Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Final love / hate SXSW listicles

Kevin Curtin, March 24, 2017

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Bright Light Social Hour
Jude Vol. 1 (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 8, 2019

Texas Platters
Charlie Faye & the Fayettes
The Whole Shebang (Record Review)

Libby Webster, Feb. 8, 2019

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018


Spoon, SXSW Music 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle