By Sam Mosher, E23 Reporter
I was not a fan of Spoon before hearing the single “Can I Sit Next to You”. The track’s dance grooves, mixed with traditional indie rock, immediately caught my attention. Lead singer Britt Daniel’s howling vocals, the sparse electronic touches and the orchestral flourishes are absolutely brilliant details that make this track amazing.
“Can I Sit Next to You” was the second single released from “Hot Thoughts”, Spoon’s ninth studio album. Their first single was the titular track, which I did not originally like. Its sour guitar chords and strangely haunting vocals in the first verse made me stop the song before reaching the chorus.
However, after hearing “Can I Sit Next to You”, I returned to “Hot Thoughts” to give it another chance, and fell in love with the song. The rollicking guitar solo after the chorus and the catchy, dance-worthy percussion won me over, and then some. I even like it more than “Can I Sit Next to You”. To put it simply, I was obsessed with these tracks.
With no prior knowledge of the band’s eight albums, Spoon’s “Hot Thoughts” skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated albums of the year. If every, or almost every, song could be as catchy and well-written as the singles, “Hot Thoughts” would be an early contender for my “best albums of 2017” list.
Unfortunately, with a heavy heart, I have to report that the other eight tracks on “Hot Thoughts” are not as good as the singles. While this is extremely disappointing, “Hot Thoughts” is still a good indie/art rock album, but it will not be remembered as one of the “greats” of 2017.
Songs like “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and “Tear It Down” come close to the first two singles, but do not quite reclaim the immensely catchy replayability found in the title track and “Can I Sit Next to You”.
In some ways, it seems like Spoon is aware of this. The two singles are placed strategically in “Hot Thoughts” to keep the listener interested. The title track kicks off the record in an amazing fashion, and “Can I Sit Next to You” comes in halfway at track six like a shot of adrenaline.
Nonetheless, it would be a disservice to “Hot Thoughts” as a whole to say it lacks energy. “Shotgun” and “First Caress”, and a few others mentioned above, are upbeat rock songs, but lack the groovy hooks necessary to balance the album in comparison to its two singles.
The album has some slow moments, and these actually stand out more than some of the energetic tracks. “I Ain’t the One” is the best of these slow songs. It uses atmospheric guitar picking, sparse backing vocals, and a strong bass drum to drive the song’s momentum.
Spoon exercises its art-rock capabilities in more abstract songs like “Pink Up” and the entirely instrumental closer “Us”. While these songs are not groundbreaking, they help break up the record from its more traditional indie rock sound.
“Hot Thoughts” is not the amazing indie rock record I hoped it would be. Its two singles, the title track and “Can I Sit Next to You”, are absolutely brilliant songs that are both groovy and catchy enough to be worthy of dancing.
On the other hand, the more straightforward rock tunes, while still good, do not capture the details found in the singles that made them so amazing. Not every song tries to be high energy, as “I Ain’t the One” and the art-rock “Us” stand out from the rest of the album due to their haunting vocals and instrumentation.
Overall, “Hot Thoughts” may not be as exceptional as its singles made it out to be, but its ten tracks are good and are worthy of at least one listen.