it’s just another way to be right wing.” When I heard that line from Spoon’s excellent “Jonathon Fisk” I knew I’d found a lifelong friend in Britt Daniel. Hell, when I heard “We get high in backseats of cars, we break into mobile homes” I think I was won over. Who am I kidding, the second I heard the thumping organ of “Small Stakes” come in and Daniel sings “Small stakes, give you the blues, you don’t feel taken, don’t think you’ve been used” I knew that Spoon was a band I would obsess over from then until the end of time(or at least until Alzheimer’s hits.)
It was a nice, chilly evening in December of 2004 just a couple weeks before Christmas and my wife was plenty pregnant with our son(he’d arrive three months later in March of 2005.) We’d gotten the girls to bed -4 and 1 at the time- and my wife was exhausted so she went to bed. I stayed up to watch Austin City Limits on PBS(channel 34 WNIT out of South Bend, IN.) As I tuned in I was taken by this band. They were called Spoon and they were an Austin band. I’d never heard of them before, but they were promoting their newest album Kill The Moonlight. The first song I heard them play was off their last album Girls Can Tell. It was this sparse, minimal piano track called “Everything Hits At Once” and I was floored. A mix of piano, Fender Rhodes, gritty minimalist guitar lines, and a hell of a drum beat transfixed me to the TV and to my chair. I almost didn’t even get up to pop some popcorn(I did.) I got back just in time to hear two more songs, both off their newest. After they were done I flew downstairs to the computer and put my dial-up connection to the test. I found their website, but there wasn’t much going on there, so I hit up Amazon and immediately ordered both Girls Can Tell and Kill The Moonlight and I can remember them showing up a few days later. Our Christmas tree was up and with nothing but the bubble lights illuminating the room I sat on the floor and listened to both CDs two times through. It was enough time that I got all the Christmas presents wrapped and even a diaper changed. I was a fan by the next day. Out of the two I was drawn to Kill The Moonlight and it’s minimalist approach to songwriting. Daniel and drummer Jim Eno seemed to have boiled their sound down to it’s most essential proteins and minerals. What was left was pure pop genius with the grit of post-punk covering the CD like the snow that covered my front yard. From “Small Stakes” to “Vittorio E.” there wasn’t a misstep. No extra digits needing excised. No extraneous fat needed trimmed. What Spoon had was a damn perfect album.
A friend who shall remain orange said recently when I’d posted about finally getting Kill The Moonlight on vinyl,” I think they have better songs elsewhere, but this is the best album … easily.” I totally get what he’s saying. Gimme Fiction was a masterstroke. It had a 70s, Plastic Ono Band dark soul to it in “The Beast and Dragon, Adored”, with bright spots of sunshine-y pop in “Sister Jack”, and even some bizarro funk in “I Turn My Camera On”, which created an epic(by Spoon’s album length standards)listening experience. And really, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was equal parts experimental pop ala Wire and pure pop sheen brilliance, but both at times had lag moments. Maybe a song that could’ve been a b-side, or maybe a song was a little too quirky and should’ve been left off altogether. Luckily though the strong songs were really strong. Kill The Moonlight was lean, mean, and could scrap with the best of ’em.
I picked Gimme Fiction as one of my top five albums ever. Now I’m thinking I might have picked the wrong album. No. No I didn’t. Nope.
Since I already had the Spoon momentum going I spun their 2010 album Transference as well. To me, this was as sorely overlooked record. I’m not sure why as hear a band getting back to basics and writing some absolutely amazing songs. It’s no Kill The Moonlight, sure. But come on, “Is Love Forever?”, “The Mystery Zone”, “Who Makes Your Money”, and “Trouble Comes Running” are instant classics. Ehh, you can’t please everybody, right Britt?