(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Telephono , 5.5/10
Soft Effects , 5/10
A Series Of Sneaks , 5.5/10
Girls Can Tell , 6.5/10
Kill The Moonlight , 6/10
Gimme Fiction (2005), 6.5/10
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) , 6.5/10
Transference (2010), 5/10
They Want My Soul (2014), 5/10
Hot Thoughts (2017), 5/10

Spoon is Britt Daniel's band, an Austin-based project that started by ripping off the Pixies on the EP Nefarious (Fluffer, 1995), especially in The Government Darling, and on the album Telephono (Matador, 1996), particularly Don't Buy The Realistic.

The EP Soft Effects (Matador, 1997) continued in that vein of catchy songs with intellectual overtones (Mountain To Sound, Waiting For The Kid To Come Out) while letting one gentle Loss Leaders steal the show.

Telephono/ Soft Effects (Merge, 2006) collects album and EP.

A Series Of Sneaks (Elektra, 1998 - Merge, 2002) was an ill-fated commercial attempt. Increased doses of melody in Execution, 30 Gallon Tank, Car Radio and No You're Not simply proved that Spoon are almost as derivative as Brit-pop, while recycling an incredible number of riffs and melodies from the annals of power-pop (all the way from the Kinks' You Really Got Me down to the Romantics' What I Like About You). The most original music was to be found in quieter numbers such as June's Foreign Spell.

Their demise by the major label is documented in the single The Agony Of Laffitte (Saddle Creek, 1999), but they forget to mention that the music was so formulaic and mainstream that even a major label may have had problems selling it.

Britt Daniel, Josh Zarbo and Jim Eno regrouped with Loveways (Merge, 2000), an eclectic EP that runs the gamut from Calexico atmospherics (Change My Life) to southern boogie (Didn't Come Here to Die) to power-pop (Jealousy, one of their best) and to Rolling Stones-ian blues (Figures of Art).

Spoon were soon hailed as the brightest promises of the punk-pop genre after the Nirvana-infected Girls Can Tell (Merge, 2001). The Cars seemed to be a major influence too (Believing Is Art) but the most innocent melodies owed something to the Tamla-soul and the Mersey-beat of the Sixies as well (Anything You Want, one of their catchiest numbers ever). Except for the anthemic Take The Fifth and Fitted Shirt, the trio preferred a sparse, relaxed, "domestic" sound (Everything Hits At Once, Lines in the Suit, Me and the Bean).

Something is wrong with Kill The Moonlight (Merge, 2002), although one can't quite pinpoint what. Daniel takes a stab at a number of different song structures and styles, rarely missing the target, but none is completely satisfactory, and each seems to straddle the line between two satisfactory songs neither of which is allowed to bloom. For example, the single Someone Something sounds like the Pixies covering Elvis Costello. Jonathon Fisk, All The Pretty Girls Go To The City and Give Me Something to Look Forward To are sprightly and effervescent, but somehow they cannot transcend their models (garage-rock, new wave, power-pop). An "acid" mellotron in Back To The Life and a synthesizer coupled with a drum-machine in Stay Don't Go may be admissions that something has to be changed, or the stubborn quest for a minimalist arrangement style. In the meantime, the teenage ode The Way We Get By codifies their philosophy of life.

The orchestration sounded a bit out of control (but perhaps also "deliciously" out of control) on Gimme Fiction (Merge, 2005), their darkest and most intimidating album yet. By this album, the attention had shifted from the songwriting to the understated arrangements and to the vocal delivery (the spare I Turn My Camera On, the melancholy The Beast and Dragon Adored).

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge, 2007) turned the idea of the previous three albums into a dogma. Tunes such as Don't Make Me a Target, You Got Yr Cherry Bomb and Underdog boasted memorable hooks but also a minimal approach to arranging, the opposite of Phil Spector's "wall of sound". Other tunes, such as Rhythm And Soul and The Ghost Of You Lingers sound deliberately unfinished, as if requiring the listener to work too in order to make the music whole.

The four-song EP Got Nuffin (Merge, 2009) contains Tweakers and Stroke Their Brains besides the single Got Nuffin.

Too many songs on Transference (Merge, 2010) use the arrangement/production to hide their weakness. The midtempo, martial singalong Written In Reverse and some generic melodic hard-rock reminiscent of the 1970s (Got Nuffin) are hardly impressive. Spoon fare better when the arrangement is not merely a diguise but actually a complement to the composition, as is the case in the warped rap-dub aural experience of Who Makes Your Money.

Britt Daniel formed the Divine Fits with keyboardist Alex Fischel. Eric Harvey released a solo album, Lake Disappointment. Then they reunited (adding Fischel to the line-up) for They Want My Soul (Loma Vista, 2014), meticulous produced by Joe Chiccarelli and Dave Fridmann. The songs constitute a parade of quotations from the classics: The Rent I Pay is an awful tribute to the Rolling Stones, Do You renews their Elvis Costello obsession, the electronic dance Outlier fuses the Bee Gees of Saturday Night Fever and the Stone Roses, etc. More original (or, at least, better engineered) are the rhythms of the humbler tunes that close the album: the marching pulsation of Let Me Be Mine (with celestial synths and a guitar that winks at the refrain of David Bowie's Jean Genie) and the propulsive techno beat of New York Kiss (with nostalgic evocative electronics).

Spoon's dance-oriented Hot Thoughts (Matador, 2017) betrays a Prince fixation in Hot Thoughts and the slightly rougher Can I Sit Next to You as well as a David Bowie fixation in the castrated rockabilly of Do I Have to Talk You Into It.

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