Spoon, "Hot Thoughts" (Matador Records)
Spoon's "Hot Thoughts" is raw, sinewy and often danceable, the band charging into its ninth album with a cruder and more experimental approach.
Helmed by producer Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips), instruments hardly sound the same from track to track but blend seamlessly, expanding into a wide space that rocks in a modern way while respecting valuable traditions — solid grooves and an economy of arrangements.
"Hot Thoughts" leans heavily on '70s dance vibes and Alex Fischel's wide array of keyboards. "Do I Have to Talk You Into It" features a dryly reverberating, John Bonham-like snare played by Jim Eno as the distortion on fellow founding member Britt Daniel's voice underlines the exasperation of "feeling cut off from everyone."
"I Ain't the One" features a Prince drum sound and bursts of vocal harmonies that accentuate the loneliness of someone who may have been a contender but has little of anything left to draw from. Rob Pope's bass propels "Shotgun," which sounds like a harsher twin of Kiss' "I Was Made for Loving You," a bad-boy memoir with violence tempered by concerns over health insurance.
Closer instrumental "Us" revisits a few bars of a previous track, "Pink Up," and opens with saxophones passing in the night, seemingly too close to ensure a safe journey. Cooperation improves as the tune's five minutes near their end but there's no escaping a disquieting, anxious sensation.
Spoon reaffirms its merits while stretching its comfort zone — and yours.