Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Grade: A
Download: The Underdog

If you had told me that Spoon would be adding a horn section to their sound for the new record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, I would have made the face I make after tasting grapefruit, an expression somewhere between disgust and disappointment. In his article about Spoon in the June 11 issue of The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones notes that Spoon "shows the rewards of restraint." Which is exactly it, isn't it? Britt Daniel's songs are basically fleshed-out sketches, with guitar and piano parts that emphasize the beat more than anything else.

So it is with great satisfaction and delight (equivalent facial expression: eating a Golooney's mushroom and onion pizza) that I report to you that Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, despite its stupid title, is a remarkable piece of work.
The first song, "Don't Make Me A Target," is vintage Spoon. It's bare-bones, with fierce, pulsating guitar work. In fact, the first indication that something different is going on comes with the third track, "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb," a Motown-like stomp with Britt Daniel using that well-loved falsetto to complement the low-end horn section. It's a hell of a track, and it alludes to greater things to come, including the Jon Brion-produced song "The Underdog," which is a propulsive, upbeat number in the vein of "Sister Jack" and "Take The Fifth." Horns ring, acoustic guitars jangle, and you sing this song all day because it won't leave your head. That's just how it works, and there's no sense avoiding it.

Now, it's easy to exaggerate the different sound of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - this is still a Spoon record, after all, and this is no reinvention. It's merely a welcome broadening of their established sound, one that retains the good ol' Spoon style we've come to know. Some songs, like "Rhthm & Soul" and "Don't You Evah," sound like they could have come from slightly tweaked versions of Kill The Moonlight and Gimme Fiction. Daniel's songwriting remains great; he still trusts his instincts to hold things back and keep you on your toes. This, of course, is all very, very good news.

Welcome, summer.

(David Brusie)

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