By Ronan McGuire
After 2014’s stellar They Want My Soul, which was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several publications, Spoon had a lot to live up to. They don’t quite get there with Hot Thoughts, the ninth studio album from Austin, Texas rock band. Hot Thoughts has its highlights, but seems to lack the authenticity and great songwriting that characterized They Want My Soul or 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
If you’re going to listen to Hot Thoughts, I suggest you stick to the first two tracks. Opener “Hot Thoughts” is a great example of the band reinventing itself yet again. 20 years later, Spoon still finds a way to make songs that sound different enough yet will still resonate with their fans that made them so popular. The second track, “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” is the highlight of the album. It reminds one of a funkier “Inside Out” from They Want My Soul. It’s got a great unconventional song structure and a killer hook. Britt Daniel’s voice still cuts like a knife.
Unfortunately, Hot Thoughts gets bogged down by its middle and end sections, with forgettable tunes like “Pink Up” and “First Caress” that sound like the band is trying to imitate itself. The second single released from the record “Can I Sit Next To You” is just as forgettable. Spoon thrives on simple melodies that sound more complicated than they are, but this track just comes across as simple and plain.
While it’s clear that Spoon was going for a completely different vibe with this album compared to the last one, it seems like they have lost all the emotional depth that made their previous records so relevant. Hot Thoughts doesn’t feel as raw as They Want My Soul or 2002’s Kill The Moonlight.
The underwhelming nature of Hot Thoughts could be due in part to the departure of multi-instrumentalist Eric Harvey, who was featured on every album from Kill The Moonlight through They Want My Soul. His departure left lead singer and guitarist, Britt Daniel with a difficult task: keeping a band together and continuing to make music that lives up to the standards set by their collaborative work. Harvey’s influence is felt in Hot Thoughts, as Daniel relies less on traditional instruments and more on electronic ones, though one could say that the band was already leaning in this direction on their last two records.
Even if Hot Thoughts doesn’t live up to some of the greater material put forward by Spoon over the last two decades, it’s not a bad record by any means. It’s a testament to how great Spoon was and is that we expect a little bit more. For now, there’s plenty of music to go listen to throughout Spoon’s discography that represents their originality and talent better than Hot Thoughts.