Tricky business, crossing the Atlantic: few have made the journey either way and found universal adoration; for every Beatles there are dozens more of your Blurs and your gobby Gallaghers. Conversely, this mass shrugging of British shoulders affects amongst others Spoon, a quartet from Texas who back home are used to playing more exotic locations than the Buckley Tivoli.
Hot Thoughts is the band's ninth album and follows 2014's They Want My Soul, a stellar commercial success in the US and their first working with producer Dave Fridman, whose CV also includes the likes of Tame Impala, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips.
Fridman has the com again this time and if the Austinites are particularly bothered about shoring up their top five status at home - or breaking Europe - there's little evidence of it here. Theirs is still a decent brew though: Chief Spooner Britt Daniel has the sort of ear-charming pipes which legitimise the tricksy smorgasbord which Hot Thoughts soon becomes, through the libido soaked indie funk-rock of the titular opener to the spritely prog of First Caress and then beyond, via the thumping alt-disco of Can I Sit Next To You.
Is he coming on a bit strong? At times it feels that way, like Prince dialling in vitamins S, E and X, but the rising tension isn't one long continuous swipe right, Daniel and co. applying some inspired touches in amongst the string of - ahem - bangers. It's this subtler yang which may yet endear them long term to punters over here, what with us preferring cups of tea to any messy stuff. The switches are a little jarring at first, with the peaky synth pop of Whisperi'lllistentohearit taking the listener somewhere into the band's shadows, the singer incanting "Candyman drives a fast car/He can be there any time/His fuel is anticipation/It's good to be wanted some times".
Clearly then Spoon are in no mood to provide anyone a comfortably predictable narrative, but their nuances are still part of a broader plan. This chippiness is of course a very British trait, one demonstrated ably on Shotgun, a feisty rock and roll swaggerathon which pivots around a rumbling bass and Daniel sneering "I shoot straight/my words elemental" at some unidentified stooge who has at some point really, really pissed him off. They also pull off a final act which dependent on your perspective will be a triumph or absurdity, closer Us is a dreamy sequence of avant-Jazz which takes stuff to a contemplative (and maybe post-coital) end, one the previous fourty minutes never looked like providing.
If Spoon are playing with their audience as much as it feels safe to guess at here, you have to speculate that it's possibly down to a collective shrug at the numbers and a label-exec killing determination to never quite cut to the chase. In so much as Hot Thoughts never seems entirely happy with itself, it's equally a collection ripped with the sort of quirks and intentional dead ends that many a British artist has tried to flog over the pond, values and content that seem too quixotic for the straight ahead U, S of A. In being this conundrum it risks leaving the regular Joes behind, but Britt Daniels it seems wants no more talk - but lots more action.
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