Release Date: Aug 5, 2014
Record label: Loma Vista Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Review Summary: Let me be mine. The critical narrative that inevitably attaches to a band once they’ve reached a certain age – say, their fourth or fifth album – rarely, if ever, has to do with the music the band is actually producing at that particular time. When that band has put out an unnaturally strong run of albums that defined a decade and a sound without ever really being part of anything else, such that a website like Metacritic can crown them Best Artist of the Decade based on aggregate critical scores by those same critics so dumbfounded by that run of excellence that the narrative becomes The Narrative, well, you get the retconning going on with Spoon’s last record, 2010’s Transference.
All these soulsuckers, they're among us. They're stealing our privacy, our convictions, the very essence of our being, and leaving behind little more than a "for sale" sign and some vague, constant hollowness. In music, a dwindling whirlpool of funds only spurs on these parasites as they scavenge for scraps of humanity wherever ears can hear. Their thirst is real.
?With four years removed from all the hype and the “Artist of the Decade” nonsense, can we all say what we’ve really been thinking? Transference wasn’t a very good Spoon album. Sure, it had its moments - the taut sizzler “The Mystery Zone” is surely an all-timer - but the mixing of demos and polished studio cuts, coupled with some material that (whisper it) wasn’t all that great sounded like a band trying desperately hard to cap off an impressive decade by being impressive. Luckily, Britt Daniel’s interim collaboration with Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner, Divine Fits, demonstrated that he hadn’t quite run out of ideas, instead adding a crisp eighties-sounding sheen to the muscular grooves of the band he calls home.
After spending the 2000s churning out consistently good albums, Spoon were due for a break. 2010's Transference reflected their weariness in its beautifully frayed collage of demo and studio recordings, so the four-year gap that followed wasn't surprising. During that time, Jim Eno produced albums by !!! and the Heartless Bastards; Eric Harvey released the solo album Lake Disappointment, and Britt Daniel formed Divine Fits with Dan Boeckner.
Doubts about Spoon's vibrancy crept in during their recent Yonge-Dundas Square set at NXNE, which was as solid as we've come to expect from the stately Austin indie rockers but didn't offer much in the way of surprises or excitement. But while their eighth album doesn't take any major left turns, it brims with life, ideas and energy. The minimalist five-piece brought Dave Fridmann aboard for production duties, he of Flaming Lips albums and Mercury Rev experimental weirdness, and he must be behind the dissonant background textures on the excellent Knock Knock Knock.
Britt Daniel's stint with alterna-supergroup Divine Fits seems to have left a lasting impression on his other band, Spoon. Like A Thing Called Divine Fits, They Want My Soul benefits from its creators' steady hands and easy demeanor, a sense that the musicians behind the instruments are confident veterans united by their love of slightly artsy garage rock. That love, which seemed to wane a bit on the otherwise excellent Transference, is rekindled strongly here by the group's back-to-basics approach, to the point where Daniel and his fellow Texans have not only produced this year's best rock album, but their most energetic and accomplished effort since 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
Spoon ended 2010’s Transference with the sputtering Nobody Gets Me Like You, a riff on eighties excess that had frontman Britt Daniel questioning, “Those who look through me, do they get me?” Daniel couldn’t possibly have had any idea that, at the time, expectations were as high as they could’ve ever been for the follow up to their career highlight Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Daniel may have very well prognosticated the lukewarm response to Transference - just as they were seeing a third decade together - as it was the first time in which they had to question whether they had to seriously prove themselves. Spoon were never interested in writing an infallible record, but Transference being an unexpectedly lurid demonstration of offbeat ideas with little to no cohesion, it was quickly looked upon as the beginning of their impending decline.
Spoon have spent the past two decades proving that minimalism doesn't need to mean thinking small. Throughout their eight albums, the Austin band has stuck with a bedrock sound built on chugging guitar, crisp hooks and frontman Britt Daniel's wryly incisive vocals. It's what Spoon have done with that sound that's interesting – adding studio craft and classic-pop dynamics to songwriting that often cuts deeper than it lets on.
Every sound jabs you on the new Spoon album. Bass lines poke, guitar riffs jostle, drums nudge. Even the vocals blurt. It’s a new kind of sound bite, comprising notes and riffs at their most curt. For their latest album, Spoon establishes that pattern with the first sound. The track “Rent I ….
Even a four-year break between records, and side projects including the debut of Britt Daniel’s Divine Fits and a new LP from Rob Pope’s Get Up Kids, can’t slow the roll that Spoon has been on since, well, basically the whole time. The Austin band has remained remarkably consistent for 20 years, honing a sound that is at once unmistakable and just different enough between records to keep things fresh. The band’s latest, their first new album since Transference in 2010, is full of trademark Spoon elements: Daniel’s dry voice with a hint of a rasp, Jim Eno’s rock-solid backbeats and a subtle, shifting mix of guitars and synths, all of which are amplified by Dave Fridmann’s expansive production.
Everyone owns at least one Spoon record, right? Be it from their earlier, noisy punk-based roots, the mid-period, more polished Gimme Fiction, Billboard chart breakthrough Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga from 2007 or the last effort, the indifferent, rough-edged Transference. Four years have since passed, with the Austin group separating indefinitely to focus on solo projects (not all musical, either) with singer/guitarist Britt Daniel’s long player with new band Divine Fits garnering most attention. The band has recently declared that the lengthy break proved to be reinvigorating as they rediscovered their energy and passion for all things Spoon.
“Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause.
On their eighth LP, Spoon want to you sing along. Where four years prior, Transference found the stylish indie-rock outfit embracing mood and long, groovy passages, They Want My Soul is the shiny pop album Spoon have heretofore only hinted at with songs like "The Underdog" and "I Summon You. ""Knock Knock Knock" and "They Want My Soul" each sport big, boisterous choruses, but in typical Spoon fashion, they're imbued with a sense of space and decorated with sonic curlicues (whistling on the former, barbershop harmony beds on the latter) that ensure they'll linger in your mind.
The last time Spoon released an album, 2010’s Transference, they had just been named Artist of the Decade by Metacritic. That sounds not unlike one of those weird, nebulously titled awards people used to invent in order to get Michael Jackson to show up to ceremonies in the 1990s, but this time it was based, more or less, in fact. Metacritic is a website devoted to aggregating other people’s reviews.
There’s a set routine to writing a Spoon review and it goes something like this… 'Ever the underdogs, Austin’s finest rock ‘n’ rollers are back with their first album since the last one we loved and no one bought. Is They Want My Soul much cop? Of course it is, we’re talking about a Spoon record here. If you can’t trust Britt Daniel to deliver ten songs of slack-jawed wonder then heaven help the tryhards out there.
Well, that was fun. Four and a half years later, Spoon have returned with their eighth studio album, They Want My Soul, a friendly wake-up call from the druggy claustrophobia of 2010’s Transference. The Austin rockers once again sound fresh, jubilant, and ready to have fun with their music — a first since their Got Nuffin EP back in 2009. But they’ve certainly done some stretching: Britt Daniel polished off brilliant new wave with Divine Fits (and brought back a friend in keyboardist Alex Fischel); Jim Eno cut his teeth over at Austin’s Public Hi-Fi studios, crafting tight work for Telekinesis, Heartless Bastards, and !!!; and Eric Harvey shook out any withstanding nerves with his solo effort, Lake Disappointment.
Spoon are the archetypal cult band. For much of their 20-year existence, they’ve inspired intense devotion from hardcore fans and little more than confused shrugs from everyone else. Then, in 2010, ‘Transference’ – which sold 53,000 copies in its first week – saw them break through to a bigger audience and reach Number Four in the US album chart in the process.
With so many voices talking about culture via the internet, we get two contradictory things: we more perspectives and opinions on art and culture than ever, but we also move on quicker than ever. Especially with the release of new music, books, and film, voices tend to swell up around release dates and then die down, at least until year-end list time comes. This isn’t a new trend in criticism and opinion so much as it an amplified version of what came before.
With a career spanning almost 20 years, the members of Spoon are gradually emerging as the grand old men of indie rock. For most acts, notching up nearly two decades together tends to coincide with an inevitable decline in quality control, yet so far the Austin ensemble's star has risen on every release. .
SpoonThey Want My Soul(Loma Vista)3.5 stars By this point, Spoon could craft a solid rock album in their sleep. And that’s actually the biggest problem with their eighth LP, the sturdy but static They Want My Soul. Two decades deep in their career, Britt Daniel and company have settled into a familiar groove, continuously reworking a handful of musical themes and quirks – the barked vocals (often panned and chopped into stereo-separated goo), the Bonham-esque drum thud, the acidic guitar stabs, the occasional psychedelic keyboard flourish.
After nearly 25 of living in each other’s pockets, the 2010 release of Transference marked the beginning of an indefinite break for Austin, Texas’ Spoon. During this downtime, frontman Britt Daniel formed Divine Fits with Dan Boechner of Wolf Parade, an altogether scuzzier, looser affair than the tight, clipped and stylish indie-rock with which Spoon have made their name. The hiatus appears to have done the trick.
While they might be a niche concern on this side of the Atlantic, in their home country, Texan five-piece Spoon are as big as it's possible for an alt-rock band on an indie label to get. Their last album, 2010's Transference, reached No 4 in the US, while its predecessor also made the Top 10. Such success is all the more impressive when achieved by the increasingly unfashionable combination of solid songwriting and hard work (although a breakthrough in the mid-00s was partly due to their song The Way We Get By making it on to the soundtracks for the movie Stranger Than Fiction and TV series The OC).
Spoon have always sounded mature beyond their years. Old heads playing with new tools, these studio addicts have the effect of being slightly ageless. Their career progression’s not been all-that conventional. One moment they’ll make an all-out pop record like ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’, the next they’ll revert into their shell, staying in the spotlight for no longer than is necessary.
You can never predict what's going to be an ear worm. You're unsuspecting and they sneak up on you. And then, before you know it, it's taken over. After a month of listening to the latest Spoon album in the car, on public transport, on foot, in my living room, I've realised it's possessed me. It's ….
With 10 songs that clock in at just under 40 minutes, Spoon's eighth studio release, "They Want My Soul," is a rock record to admire, and not just for the way its melodies and textures wheedle their way into the head. One of the most acclaimed rock bands of the last decade, Spoon is returning from the longest hiatus of its career, a time that saw leader Britt Daniel teaming with Canadian avant-pop singer Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade to explore dance-punk joy with Divine Fits. Like an architect who understands form and engineering so well that he seems able to bend the laws of physics while using them to the fullest, Daniel designs songs that waste little space and have a grand, undeniable logic, filled with volumes of mesmerizing curves and accents.
Spoon has a reputation for arty minimalism. Its pithy albums suggest a cool remove, a distaste for wasted notes or wasted emotions. "They Want My Soul" (Loma Vista), the quintet's eighth studio album and first in four years, is no exception — its 10 songs clock in at under 38 minutes. But singer Britt Daniel, whose lyrics often arrive in cryptic epigrams, has also been exploring a more nuanced, even soulful thread over the last decade.
The biggest surprise of They Want My Soul, the first new Spoon record in four years, is how long it takes to get going. Since Girls Can Tell heralded the band’s post-Elektra renaissance with “Everything Hits At Once” in 2001, Spoon has been one of the great track-one, side-one bands of its age. Even Transference, the 2010 LP that suggested the band’s remarkable consistency could one day lapse into complacency, begins with the swaggering one-two punch of “Before Destruction” and “Is Love Forever?” But it isn’t until They Want My Soul’s fourth track, “Do You,” that the record truly starts to kick in.
Writing about Spoon can be tough: at this point in the band’s career, their music is so confidently tight as to seem almost impermeable. How can a critic slip any words between cracks that don’t exist? That unassailable quality may be what provoked so many critics to pin Spoon’s last record, 2010’s Transference, as a head-scratcher, a disappointment, a step too far in the group’s penchant for deconstructing rock and pop tropes (“Finally, we can do our jobs!”). Four years later, it’s easy to see how well Transference has aged, easily holding its place in Spoon’s catalog, not to mention how it contains some of the band’s best songs to date—including what may be their finest, full stop, the devastatingly beautiful “Out Go the Lights.
Austin rockers Spoon return from a four-year break heavy one member — Alex Fischel, of frontman Britt Daniel’s side project Divine Fits — but still light on their feet on their urgent new album, “They Want My Soul. ” Produced by Joe Chiccarelli (My Morning Jacket) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips), the brisk 38-minute, 10-song collection brims with sideways guitar pluck and twang, warbly keys, and earwormy tunes that demand immediate repeated listens. From the restless tambourine jangle of “Rainy Taxi” through the simultaneous ruminative and bouncy “Inside Out” and on to the brooding rumble and churn of “Outlier” the band is in solid garage-pop shape, and back on the same page after a hiatus filled by members branching out into side projects.
Spoon needed a hiatus. Daunted by the unprecedented commercial success that accompanied 2007 career milestone Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band threw longtime producer Mike McCarthy out with the bathwater for 2010's Transference, a work of subtle desperation that lacked focus and clarity. Chalk it up to time and distance, or the cathartic release afforded frontman Britt Daniel in underrated side project Divine Fits, but They Want My Soul returns Spoon to rare form.
Two years ago, it probably wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Spoon had decided to call it quits for good. Lead singer Britt Daniel was busy fronting Divine Fits, whose artsy, new wave brand of indie rock drew surprising critical acclaim, especially for a “supergroup,” and whose members remained adamant that the band was not just a one-off. Bass player Rob Pope had just re-joined the influential emo band the Get Up Kids, a group he had been a founder of in the mid-90s with his brother and childhood friends, and one that he remained a member of for over a decade before moving to Texas to join Spoon in 2007.
by PETER TABAKIS < @ptabakis > Sustained excellence is a rare treasure in popular music. It happens so infrequently, you’d expect listeners to express nothing less than overwhelming gratitude whenever we encounter such persistent greatness. Instead, we often respond with ratcheting demands (give us more of that, but different and better!) and churlishness (that wasn’t what I was asking for – you suck!).