Spoon: They Want My Soul (Three Takes) (Show Friday!)
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are three reactions, three impressions, three takes on They Want My Soul by Spoon.
After the ho-hum reception to Spoon’s last album Transference in 2010, the band took a four year hiatus to focus creatively on other efforts, and maybe that’s why the band’s latest release, They Want My Soul, sounds like a fresh recharge of the batteries for the members. It definitely shows in the curtness the band displays; a 38 minute tour-de-force which shows that the time off reflects in each of the stylistic shifts of each song, from such basic alternative head-nodders as “Do You,” “Rainy Taxi,” and the title track, as well as a flash of trip-hop sensibility in “Rent I Pay” and “Inside Out,” all the while never losing its step, and while some pieces on this ten track album sound similar to other tracks in the band’s catalog, Spoon still manages to keep it sounding fresh, wonderful, and brimming with energy, which makes They Want My Soul another notch in the belt of Spoon’s impactful and well versed discography.
I honestly didn’t have high hopes for the new Spoon album. It’s not that I hate Spoon. It’s mainly that I feel like the mainstream “indie rock” genre as we understand it today is by and large creatively bankrupt. The bands that defined and are the forerunners of it (of which Spoon is certainly one) certainly aren’t amongst those making today’s most exciting tunes. However, it’s a testament to Spoon as a band I guess that they can essentially do the same old thing they have been doing for years and it is actually not bad. The new record They Want My Soul is full of pleasurable, catchy, upbeat rock tunes. If you are a huge Spoon fan you will probably love it. Being a moderate Spoon fan myself I could take it or leave it. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for getting into it though and also highly recommend Spoon as a live band to see (which you can do this Friday at First Ave).
A certain point in my life coincided with, as it stands now, the “prime” years of Austin band Spoon. Their music was soulful, sharp, and referenced just enough bands I liked at the time to seem like a righteous and funky melting pot of music, all crammed into 45 minute LPs they released every 18 months. About the time I drifted further towards the fringes, it also seemed like they lost their way a bit. I wasn’t sure my total lack of interest in their 2010 LP Transference was my fault or theirs. After taking in the seemingly revitalized group on their new LP They Want My Soul, I’m going to lean towards them. From the locked-in groove of “Rainy Taxi” to the acoustic proto-soul “Knock Knock Knock” to the driving, skittish title track, the band seemed to pull them out from under the lethargy that dragged down their last record. While I won’t go as far as to say it would climb to the top of my favorite records by the group, it is nice to hear them doing what it is the do best at full speed.