Review: Spoon Doubles Down on Beat Science on 'Hot Thoughts'

Our take on the latest from the Austin post-punks

The title track of Hot Thoughts starts like a Kraftwerk tune: electronic drone, metronomic beats and clipped robotic vocals. Then the guitars crash in, and you're reminded almost no one engineers post-punk propulsion into precision-tuned rock-and-roll melody better than Spoon auteur Britt Daniel. Nearly 25 years in, his group has made maybe their best record yet – a line that been repeated, accurately enough, with most every record they've made.

With Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann on board, the set is as lushly trippy as it is rhythmically hyped, apropos a band named for a song by psychedelic Seventies beat scientists Can. "We come to mesmerize," Daniel chants over the floatation-tank vibraphone funk of "Pink Up" (a slogan for the next Women’s March?). Berlin-era Bowie is a clear touchstone: see "First Caress," Sharon Van Etten swirling somewhere in the mix and "Can I Sit Next to You," with its Arabic-scented synth flourishes. Dub breaks, Giorgio Moroder disco pulses and post-rock abstractions bubble up and recede. But Daniel, still a brilliantly ruthless editor, keeps things taut and antsy, even on the closer "Us," a five-minute ambient free-jazz space-out that gives you time to grab another drink, hit repeat and dive back into the groove.