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CD Shorts: Spoon

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

They Want My Soul

(Loma Vista)

 

Spoon has been a good band for a long time—the project began in 1993—but this eighth album may be the point at which Spoon reaches escape velocity. They Want My Soul offers something few albums do: breathtaking consistency. There are songs that aren’t quite as hard-hitting as others, but Spoon’s worst moments are more interesting than most bands’ finest.

What stays the same is something that’s hard to pin down. Spoon sounds like Spoon, in a way that lets you know instantly who you’re listening to. Not because it’s stuck firmly in a genre—Spoon is hardly that—but because of a sensibililty that infuses the music no matter its textures.

Britt Daniel’s vocals are rough around the edges, but always possess a ragged cool. The instrumental sounds borrow from the same formulae often, pairing sometimes odd rhythms with scrappy guitar playing that never seems to settle into rock cliches, heading instead for bursts of chord or meandering sort-of-solos. The keyboards (courtesy of new member Alex Fischel) offer weird textural turns and unexpected departures into big soundscapes.

Somehow, while all of this goes on, there’s a ghost lurking at the border. Just who it is isn’t clear. Maybe it’s somebody who once played with Steely Dan, or maybe it’s Billy Joel, but whoever the specter, it brings an omnipresent air of ’70s pop coolness into this otherwise resolutely indie rock scene. The result is infectious beyond reason.

All of Spoon’s surprising turns make perfect sense once they’ve happened, and trying to divine just what makes these high-minded songs tick could have your player stuck on repeat for days. This is that rare beast: a brilliant album. They may want Britt Daniel’s soul, but they’ll never capture such an elusive entity.•

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