By Chris Troutman
July 11, 2007
In college I had a friend whom I would only see once or twice every few months for the sole purpose of sharing new music with each other. Upon one of these visits, I think it was a Tuesday, among several other offerings he gave me an album named Kill the Moonlight by a band named Spoon. This CD sat for months on the floorboard of my car as I listened to more popular fair of the early 2000s. I delivered pizzas in those days and would often deplete and tire of my usual musical selections and would use these long nights alone on the road with pizza and a CD player to get to know newer artists. And one of these times I happened to pick up that oddly titled CD with the arms on it and put it in my CD player and listened to it. And I listened to it. And I listened to it some more. And I realized there was something about this band Spoon. They weren’t hard. They weren’t overly emotive. They weren’t weird just to be weird. They weren’t on the radio. They weren’t pretentious. They weren’t over produced. They were just good.
And two albums later, mainstream success, movie scores and main stage billings across the world have not changed the simple fact that Spoon is good.
Their minimalist approach to instrumentation and song structure wedded to clever catchy hooks and Britt Daniel’s cool yet approachable voice all come together again on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon’s sixth full length studio album. And where the term “studio album” would normally conjure up ideas of slick producers and piles of digital equipment and professional ringer musicians, Spoon actually accentuates their simple minimalistic tendencies with gritty and sometimes haunting production. Only embracing automated mixing technology since 2005, Spoon excels at crafting songs that cram aural Easter eggs into every crevice of your skull [read: the louder you listen the more you hear].
It is hard to pick out highlights on this record as each of theses 10 songs possess an individual personality with quirks and oddities and genius of its own. It’s equally as hard to place some of these songs when not heard in the context of the entire album (seeing the video for “The Ghost of You Lingers” for the first time is a good example).
“Don’t Make Me a Target,” added over a year ago to their live set, welcomes us all to this strangely named record with typical Spoon characteristics assuring us the Spoon we love isn’t going anywhere we don’t want to follow.
Things get a bit different, but still align with the direction of Gimme Fiction on “The Ghost of You Lingers.” This eerie song boasts some of Spoon’s spookier studio work as Daniel’s voice echoes over an anxious piano and agitated deteriorating digital erosions. Also, the inspiration for the albums peculiar title (it makes almost embarrassingly obvious sense when you hear it.)
“You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” has horns in it: Mariachi type horns. It’s sort of odd to think about, but you don’t notice until you really pay attention. And then it’s still OK. “Eddie’s Ragga,” conceived in a “jam” with fellow Austin band I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, is possibly one of the coolest songs Spoon has spawned.
Where Gimme Fiction’s “I Summon You” opened with a frantic guitar and eased into a cool rhythmic tune, “The Underdog” borrows that same frantic guitar and bursts into, you guessed it, more mariachi horns. And once again, it surprisingly works. After the intro the song settles into a classic Spoon-esque bare-bones verse with bookend mariachi bursts garnering the chorus.
Spoon closes out Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in fine fashion with the melancholy, almost nostalgic, “Black Like Me.” This near remorseful song is possibly one of the more personal and emotional songs crafted by these merchants of soul.
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is Spoon building on their already near perfect style and evolving and blah blah groundbreaking and so on and so forth and the next Beatles and will align the planets and usher in a new era of globe spanning love and peace. Basically this is a record of ten very good songs by a very good band.