As soon as the opening riff of “Rent I Pay” opens the new album from Spoon you know you’re in for a hell of a ride. With it’s Stones-y swagger and Britt Daniels’ vocals ripping through the speakers like razor blades it’s a pronouncement that Daniels and Eno have found that magic once again. Not that I think they ever lost the magic they nurtured and honed in Austin, Texas all those years ago. They just needed to walk away and do something else for a bit(Eno producing other artists while Daniels played in Divine Fits) and come back with fresh ears. What their break has done is given us the best Spoon album since 2007s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
They Want My Soul, Spoon’s newest long player since 2010s misunderstood Transference sounds like a band having a great time playing with each other. I don’t think the Spoon of 2010 could have written something so earnest and beautiful as “Inside Out”, a lilting pop track that is as good as anything you’ll hear on any album this year. “Time’s gone inside out/Time gets distorted when there’s intense gravity” Daniels sings, later declaring “There’s intense gravity in you/ I’m just your satellite” as synth strings carry us gently through. On “Do You”, a good vibes song that should be the song of the summer(if that’s really a thing), Daniels belts in his rock n’ soul croon “I was on 45th I was half out of the bag/ Yeah I knew that you saw me you laughed when I looked back”, later asking the question “Do you wanna get understood?”
Listening to these songs you can tell that Daniels, Eno, Rob Pope, Eric Harvey, and new keyboardist Alex Fischel(of Daniels side project Divine Fits) are here to do one thing and one thing only: write great hooks and get us moving. Before, it seemed Spoon were at the forefront of minimal experimentation with a healthy dose of Kinks royal pop to lessen the sting of Daniels’ Wire and Pixies leanings. There’s still those backwards whooshes and reverbed blasts that come up from under the mix, but they don’t take precedent here. What takes precedent is songwriting and Daniels’ soulful growl.
“Outlier” is this tense, dance-y number with the soon-to-be classic line “And I remember when you walked out of garden state/ because you had taste you had taste you had no time to waste”. Whether that’s a knock on New Jersey or the Zach Braff flick, it doesn’t matter; it’s still snarky and beautiful. “They Want My Soul” has the pop giddiness of primo-era Hall and Oates, if The Jam had written “Kiss On My List”. There hasn’t been this much pop glee on a Spoon album since “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb”. Then, their excellent cover of the Ann Margaret song “I Just Don’t Understand” gets the Mike McCarthy treatment as he comes in to mix this excellent, jaunty piano-driven track with some of Daniels best-sounding vocals. If you’re not aware, Mike McCarthy produced all of Spoon’s albums up to Transference, which was self-produced. The guy doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion. I always thought he was to Spoon as Nigel Godrich was to Radiohead.
Just my two cents, folks.
“Let Me Be Mine” is longing and beautiful jangle rock at it’s finest, while album closer “New York Kiss” sounds like modern dance floor pop. Big disco beat and great synths carry the track as Daniels sings “There ain’t a thing I miss/ Not like your New York kiss”.
Do I wanna get understood? Sure. But I’m happy with They Want My Soul. Welcome back, Spoon. You’ve been missed.
9.2 out of 10