::*SIXEYES REVIEW:: by Alan Williamson
If The Beatles had lopped off Paul MacCartney and his Tin Pan Alley-isms, and then been signed to Berry Gordy's Motown back in the early sixties, their sound would likely have very closely resembled Spoon's. It's funny because I never noticed much of a resemblance between the vocals of Spoon's lead singer Britt Daniel and The Beatle's John Lennon (Who I have always considered to have the perfect rock n' roll voice... ever). But if you take Lennon's voice and strip away the high yearning tension you would be left with, pretty much, the dusty American sound of Daniel... like ice cream with Texas sand in it (okay, let's make it sugar so you don't gag), sweet and gritty. A voice put once more to good use on Spoon's new disc, Gimme Fiction (Merge Records - May 10th). When he sings out the chorus of "The Beast and Dragon, Adored", the slow burner that opens Gimme Fiction, the young Lennon's soulful holler of "Twist and Shout", haunts the listener.
Eleven tracks are what you get and that ain't no fiction, it's pure muscle, there's no fat on this disc. The songs that jump out, straight off, are the first single, "I Turn My Camera On", "Sister Jack", and "I Summon You". The last two have been available as free mp3 downloads in their demo forms for quite some time and that is one of the problems I have with the song "Sister Jack". Perhaps it's from continued listening for months, but the piano demo version is still the preferred one for me, but I am slowly beginning to be converted to the full band album version. It is, in any form, simply a fantastic pop song that should be, and deserves to be, on the playlist of every radio station and in the CD player of every car this summer. As does "I Turn My Camera On", which has, as so many Spoon songs do--a strong bass and drum foundation laced with funk--along with their familiar digital percussion, i.e. snaps, slaps, and handclaps. Spoon's pop/rock songs make you want to dance or at least try--lead singer Daniel comes on with a soulful falsetto, surrounded by some in-your-face percussion right alongside the amped up rhythm guitar. The song doesn't take you far, although it surely moves you around nicely while it's paying a visit.
The Austin, Texas, 'band' (the main production team of Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno handle all the instruments on 5 of the 11 tracks, plus Daniel authored all eleven) delivers the goods on each and every track, with a couple of left turns here and there down interesting alleys. "The Infinite Pet" has the rolling piano of Beatles track, "Hey Bulldog", and the melody line of Peggy Lee's "Fever', a strange yet intoxicating formula and following this song is "Was It You?"-- with guests Eddie Roberts on 'creepy bass', and the dynamic analog duo of John Vanderslice and Scott Solter--who also lent their production expertise to the song (the most atmospheric on the album)--on 'rings and feedback' and 'delay drum' respectively.
But do not fear Spoon fans and those who jumped on the bandwagon with their 2002 release, Kill The Moonlight. New songs, "Merchants of Soul", "Two Side of Monsieur Valentine", and the aforementioned, "Sister Jack" and "I Summon You" would not be out of place on their former watermark album. But this is Spoon's new watermark and it's called Gimme Fiction.
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