Spoon’s Hot Thoughts gets the fans danc­ing

Texas band pares down its sparse sound and gets into a dirty-funk hook for its lat­est se­duc­tive re­lease

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - STU­ART DERDEYN sderdeyn@post­media.com twit­ter.com/stu­art­derdeyn

With its lat­est record, Hot Thoughts, Spoon man­ages to do some­thing few thought pos­si­ble. The Austin, Texas, band ac­tu­ally pares down its al­ready sparse sound and puts even more space into the 10 tracks.

The re­sult is the band’s most-se­duc­tive, and also funky, re­lease.

Song­writer, lead-singer and guitarist Britt Daniel says that drum­mer Jim Eno will have his work cut out for him, as the beats on Hot Thoughts are in­cred­i­bly pre­cise.

“Yeah, in the be­gin­ning we didn’t know if we could do a song like Pink Up live be­cause of all the beats and we didn’t play it for the first few months we were tour­ing as it was very much a stu­dio cre­ation,” said Daniel. “Then we started play­ing it on the Euro­pean tour and I think we did it and have got it down.”

Hot Thoughts is loaded with the most club-happy vibes of any al­bum from Spoon. The sin­gle, Can I Sit Next to You?, the ti­tle track and First Ca­ress are some of the most-dance­able ever. Daniel ad­mits that he was some­what sur­prised by their re­cep­tion. “I didn’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect a song like Can I Sit Next to You? to do so well,” he said. “I knew that Hot Thoughts and Can I Talk You Into It would do well right away, but peo­ple re­ally seem to be in the mood to dance.”

Daniel, Eno, bassist Rob Pope and key­boardist Alex Fishel have al­ways had a se­ri­ous, if spa­cious, groove. But get­ting into the Spoon equiv­a­lent of a dirty-funk hook is some­what of a new thing.

“I was sur­prised, and not un­pleas­antly so, read­ing crit­ics call­ing this our ‘dance record,’ ” said Daniel. “We have al­ways had some roots in R&B and if they want to say that it’s all fine. But we didn’t want to make a record that was back­ward-look­ing in any way, so there is no acous­tic gui­tar and we have re­ally used Alex, who can play any­thing on the key­boards, all through­out.”

But don’t come to Hot Thoughts ex­pect­ing any ex­tended jams or wah­wah work­outs. Spoon is a band that has steadily pro­gressed since 2001’s “come­back” Girls Can Tell into a pre­ci­sion unit whose songs are each works of metic­u­lous, ra­zor-sharp edit­ing. This isn’t to say that their ma­te­rial is cold or over-pro­duced.

There just isn’t any­thing any­where to an ex­cess amount.

“I get eas­ily bored and so I like lis­ten­ing to records, of see­ing a show where you know a lot of thought re­ally went into it,” he said. “Once I started mak­ing records like that, I re­ally got off on it and, let’s face it, no­body made Sgt. Pep­per’s by ac­ci­dent.”

Spoon has fed fans its unique brand of rock to greater and greater suc­cess with­out re­ally cap­tur­ing the ra­dio. The band plays sold­out shows across Canada. Al­bums such as 2005’s bril­liant Gimme Fic­tion took off and led to Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007), Trans­fer­ence (2010) and They Want My Soul (2014), all en­ter­ing the U.S. Top 10.

Hot Thoughts came in at No. 1 on a num­ber of charts.

“I’m not sure what it means, be­cause what equals top spot one week can be No. 10 the next,” said Daniel. “Some­times, the charts re­ally can mat­ter, such as when Kid A went No. 1 and what usu­ally was in that spot was Gen­e­sis or a Bey­oncé al­bum, not some weird lit­tle elec­tronic al­bum.”

He re­ally doesn’t care too much about charts or awards as much as be­ing able to keep mak­ing the al­bums he wants to make. And this time around, there was a fair bit of sonic se­duc­tion in­volved.

“I sure hope so, be­cause I had the ti­tle Hot Thoughts for quite awhile in my head and I knew I wanted to do some­thing with it and had even tried it with an­other piece of music, which was pretty good,” he said. “Then my girl­friend called me from Shibuya, Ja­pan, where she had been wan­der­ing about at 3 a.m. and told me a story of a man com­ing over to her and telling her that her teeth were shin­ing so bright. I guess it was his way of hit­ting on her, and I hope it didn’t work, but that made it into the lyric and then an­other piece of music came and it was it.”

That’s how songs get writ­ten some­times, he notes. But what about the in­stru­men­tal tracks on the al­bum? Did the lengthy lead in on Pink Up and the clos­ing song Us come out of jams in the re­hearsal stu­dio as they so of­ten do? This is new ter­rain for the group.

“I think about them more as sound­scapes or move­ments that were happy ac­ci­dents, which is why we kept them,” he said. “Since re­leas­ing Hot Thoughts, Us is ac­tu­ally the track I’ve lis­tened to the most. Per­haps be­cause it’s the least typ­i­cal of me, I don’t know.”

Daniel says that he is al­ways look­ing for “ac­ci­dents he can use” in his cre­ative out­put. He says that the en­tire band has al­ways used this method in cre­at­ing con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent records. “Some­one once told me that in­spi­ra­tion likes to find you work­ing,” said Daniel.

Spoon does.

— GETTY IMAGES FILES

Britt Daniel of Spoon says he did not ex­pect the song Can I Sit Next to You? to do so well.

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