Hot Thoughts is Spoon’s ninth studio album, continuing a legacy started in the late ’90s, and the fact that the band hasn’t faded into repetitious irrelevancy is a feat in and of itself. Instead, their newest release takes a finely honed sound and infuses it with harmonies that burst with vibrancy. Hot Thoughts is a Picasso painting of an album: An enthusiastic collection of songs that each strive to stand out from the rest.
The opening track, “Hot Thoughts” introduces the rest of the album with a bang; jangling rhythms paired with lead singer Britt Daniel’s pointed vocals immediately grab attention and add a sweeping new dimension to the standard chorus of “hot thoughts all in my mind all of the time.”
“WhisperI’lllistentohearit” directly follows “Hot Thoughts” and smoothly picks up where the first song left off. However, instead of continuing the same melody, it shifts in an entirely new direction. Vibrating tempos and Daniel’s echoing whisper building to an electric shriek of guitar chords cloaks the song in a darker, more cynical, layer.
The rapid tempo of Hot Thoughts’ second track comes screeching to a halt as the mellow tempo of “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” crawls into the spotlight. Swinging harmonies and breezy beats diffuses the condensed energy built up by the previous song and allows a more relaxed air to surround the album.
The rest of Hot Thoughts continues in a similar way; songs expand on elements introduced by their predecessors and ultimately aim to transport the album in a distinctive direction. “Pink Up” takes the succession of spiraling piano chords and harshly dramatic beats of “First Caress” and softens them, turning the album from energetic exclamations to quiet murmurs without losing its overall flow. “Shotgun” takes the sprawling “Tear It Down” and condenses its sound, speeding up the tempo and adding a newfound stability.
Hot Thoughts is a continuous cycle of construction and destruction; no one track sounds the same.
However, even though Hot Thoughts is thrilling to listen to, it still follows the Spoon blueprint. The band has made sure every new album released added a slight alteration to their original sound: A refined blend of punk, pop and rock that was well-established with the creation of “A Series of Sneaks” in 1998. While the colorful electronic components and funky instrumentals found in Hot Thoughts might be a novel experiment for Spoon, the underlying elements of minimalist vocals and brash rhythms is nothing new.
But, as the liveliness of Hot Thoughts displays, this band is not tired in the least, despite doggedly sticking to mostly analogous album structures. Utterly refusing to step away from the spotlight, Spoon still remains full of ideas for future exploration.