Great band. Not-so great name.
Let that not be a determent, detour-ant or detour. It shouldn’t have stopped you from listening to Soundgarden, shouldn’t have turned you away from Cake, shouldn’t have torpedo’d a potential love affair with Vampire Weekend. Not every band name can be a winner. Some are just…just…they’re just band names. Spoon however…I don’t know the history, but it sounds like a band name that a high school band would have attached to themselves and thought it was the coolest thing ever. You know, like how one of my high school bands felt about the name Shuttle. The one word band name thing was very in to us; those of us influenced by Nirvana and Sublime.
Bush, Filter, Oasis- the one name bands were a damn near pandemic for a while there.
Spoon: great band, not-so great name.
Spoon: back with a new album, four years after their last one.
Spoon: the pride of Texas, provided the Dillon Panthers don’t really exist.
The new album is called They Want My Soul and Spoon, after a did they or didn’t they break up period since the release of 2010’s Transference, reemerged led by the lead single, “Rent I Pay.” It rang familiar like a college buddy does when you hear their voice in a voice mail. The hammering backbeat of the drums, the sharp guitar strokes, Britt Daniel’s sneering vocals.
In short, “Rent I Pay” was promising.
How about the rest of the album?
Let’s find out.
Like buddies. So crack open a beer, start the First Listen on iTunes and giddy up.
Song 1: “Rent I Pay”
It all starts with the drums- the kind of beat that’s one of the first one drummers learn with the bass on one and three, the snare on two on four. Spoon aren’t about the drums, but they are about the drums. The beats are simplistic bliss. Nothing flashy, all business. Texas forever. Ground and pound. Snap the ball, hand it to Smash.
This kind of sparsity requires work. It may sound easy, but it’s not. It’s like playing live hip hop. It’s hard to make it look easy. Spoon are clever bastards in that respect.
But the lushness starts to rear it’s head, peaking around the corner ever so slightly. Spoon is a five-piece now.
Song 2: “Inside Out”
Visit from my dog number 1.
You have keys, you have segues into songs that those that don’t wish they had. Less guitar in this and if not for a bum shoulder, this is a hand-clapper. A proper hand-clapper with hands high over your head and…dog just went to check on my wife and The Bachelorette. Don’t tell anyone, but I know who Andi picks, and it’s not freedom which we secretly hoped for.
This is a peaceful tune. Ethereal. Atmospheric. Music for thinking. The guitars and keyboards are like two dogs running around a backyard- intertwined and playful.
They Want My Soul already sounds like a brighter album than Transference.
Song 3: “Rainy Taxi”
The first upbeat tune. It sounds suspenseful- like if it were in a movie, it’d be playing during a chase scene through a library. I love the scratchy guitar. I came home last night, I had no good news.
Spoon really is dance music for the anti-dance music crowd.
As the sun goes fading in the west…
I love the mood of this song and the fact that it includes Daniel singing run, run, run is even better.
Song 4: “Do You”
The second single- heard it earlier today on the radio. The most Summer Good Time Jam I’ve heard yet…but truth be told, the whole album feels like summer- especially late summer. It’s an album of summer nights and leisurely summer mornings. It’s porch music. After the relative darkness of Transference, not sure I saw that coming. I read earlier today that part of the reason for the long break between albums was that Spoon needed a break. Listening to this album, seems the break went well. Batteries recharged.
Song 5: “Knock, Knock, Knock”
How the hell do they keep coming up with simple guitar parts that sound completely original???
This song has a hum along drone to it. Oh, some real robot guitar parts come in halfway through, balanced by the innocence of whistling in the background. Spoon do such an interesting/amazing job of putting together a three to four minute piece of music that never really changes, but never loses your interest either. Their songs are journeys as much as they are meditative lapses. They’re not jazz cigarettes, just regular cigarettes.
Song 6: “Outlier”
Again, dance music for non-dance music people. You were smart, you played not part, you just thought, what you thought.
This is currently an endorsement for Anchor Summer Beer.
Visit from my dog number 2. I think she needs to go for a walk soon.
I see flashing lights when I hear this song.
While nothing has really jumped out at me so far with this album, I really like it. And therein lies the genius of Spoon- making ordinary cool.
Song 7: “They Want Your Soul”
Not every Spoon song is “The Underdog,” a song that can stand alone so well. I think of Spoon more in terms of albums rather than songs. And that’s not to say they don’t write great songs, they do. (Dog visit number 3) It’s just that they write songs that flow so well into the next song that it makes for super cohesive albums. Which this one is.
Song 8: “I Just Don’t Understand”
This is the first song that sounds different- it has some swing to it, a different shade of attitude. It sounds Western.
And it also feels like the shortest song on the album.
Song 9: “Let Me Be Mine”
First impression is that this song could go in a “Underdog” direction.” But it doesn’t. It just flirts with it. There are no horns on this album. But there is a lightness to this song. It feels pretty darn wonderful and should be played louder than it is currently.
I really like the juke and jive of this tune. I want you to auction off what you love. It has an end of the world joyfulness to it- a feeling of screw it, were doomed…but together.
Song 10: “New York Kiss”
This song blends together the feeling of the first half of the album (meditative and prohibitively joyful) with the vibe of the second half (the incredible incredibleness of life.) The vocals and swing represent the later half, the keys the first half. Either way, it’s a good song.
And it’s a good album. Is it great?
Yeah probably. I’ll most likely take the dog for a walk after this, humming at least one or two of the songs and will wake up tomorrow, anxious to listen to it again, which I will, at least two or three times tomorrow. I’ll listen again and again because the simple never gets old and Spoon taps into something that bears repeating. It’s amazing. They totally and completely sound like Spoon.
And that’s totally and completely awesome.
All right, Lucy, let’s go for a walk.