If ever there was a band that never saw fit to rest on its laurels, it’s Austin’s Spoon. Seriously, for each one of their nine albums, you could level an abundance of references at them, and all pointedly different ones for each period of their ever impressive career. As a consequence, somehow, the Texan band have managed to make one of the best ‘dance’ records of the year!
This is apparent right from the outset, with the opening title track paying homage to Massive Attack by effectively stealing the percussion samples from ‘Unfinished Sympathy‘ and hence becoming something that sounds like a sample of something that was already a sample in the first place. Still, it’s an impressive work and leaves us more than intrigued to hear the rest of the album. And what a fine release it is. ‘Can I Sit Next To You‘, just to illustrate the wide ranging musical palate of this band, sounds rather like Justin Timberlake performing Peter Gabriel‘s ‘Sledgehammer‘, albeit much better than you could possibly anticipate that sounding. And the track that immediately precedes this, ‘Pink Up‘, feels almost as if they have deliberately set out, towards the end at least, to make a chillout version of ‘Tubular Bells‘. If you’re not already aware of the fact that Spoon like to do things their own way, prepare to be confounded, too, by their decision to end Hot Thoughts with the saxophone swarm of ‘Us‘, a track which sounds for all the world like the intro to a concept album. Baffling? Yes, but also clearly also an indicator of their warped genius and playful sense of humour.
Sometimes, of course, less is more, and so it proves in the startling isolation of ‘I Ain’t The One‘, which is largely composed of merely Britt Daniel’s vocal and electric organ for the first half of the song and as a result is potently rewarding. ‘WhisperI’lllistentoit‘ begins in a similarly intense vein, but this time, the track eventually explodes into an audacious rocker with the kind of reverb effect that Fleetwood Mac used on their 1987 hit ‘Big Love‘. What we end up with is one of the most engaging tunes of the decade so far. I know it’ll make my ‘Best Of The Year’ compilation come December anyway.
Once again, Spoon stir up an appetising cocktail of rock, pop, dance and anthemic floor-fillers, and I didn’t even have to mention to two catchiest numbers on the album. Cracking stuff.
Hot Thoughts is released on 17th March through Matador.