The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Wednesday Record Reviews

Hot Thoughts (Matador)

Reviewed by Greg Beets, March 17, 2017, Music

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)


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