A bit like those great American bands such as Shearwater or The National, I must say I really discovered the greatness of Spoon’s music in 2007 only, i.e. more than ten years after their first studio album. I guess I am faulty by having read too much British press at the time…whereas I got a better balance subsequently while perusing the internet. In musical trends, one generally goes from US grunge to Britpop whilst actually there were many interesting and original bands doing their own thing. Better late than never as they say so here are two reviews for the price of one of one of the best and singular band of our times.
- Discography: the studio LP’s
Telephono (1996): Always weird to discover old albums of favourite bands and quite difficult to be objective and not think about what would go next. This is not the case with bands such as Radiohead for instance as I bought their first album the week it went out and I can judge each record by its merit. Anyway, Telephono is a very solid debut album albeit lacking a bit of singularity. Quite influenced by bands such as Pixies or Pavement, this album is made out of punchy and short songs. One could already feel the excellence of Jim Eno on the drums but Britt Daniel’s voice is not as precise as it is now. Best tracks: “Don’t Buy the Realistic“, “All The Negatives Have Been Destroyed” and “Towner“. Rating: 7/10
A Series Of Sneaks (1998): Not as rough as the first album but not as great and polished as the masterpieces to come, this album deserves to be discovered and listened to with fresh ears. One could very much feel the influences of the 90’s US rock sound on a few songs whereas a few other ones are really singular and could have been written anytime in the 60’s, 90’s or today. A testimony of a band growing up with grace. Best tracks: “The Minor Tough“, “Metal Detektor” and “No You’re Not“. Rating: 7.5/10
Girls Can Tell (2001): Thee years without a new album may appear a long time for a young band but this lapse of time was explained first by being on a new label and also by the release of the excellent “Love Ways” EP in 2000. If such a thing exists, this is the album where the band really found their identities and the “Spoon sound”. By this, I mean getting away from the Pixies / Pavement influences and getting closer to the skeletal drums and guitar sound which makes the band immediately familiar. Not great yet…but getting closer to it. Best tracks: “Everything Hits At Once“, “Lines In The Suit” and “This Book Is A Movie“. Rating: 8/10
Kill The Moonlight (2002): The energy was there and now Spoon were getting closer and closer to their sound. This album is probably even more interesting in that sense compared to the previous one although I found the songs not as memorable. Typically the kind of records one would describe as transitional, which means very often that it is full of hidden treasures. Best tracks: “The Way We Get By“, “Stay Don’t Go” and “Don’t Let It Get You Down“. Rating: 7.5/10
Gimme Fiction (2005): The first true great record by Spoon and very often considered as their best by a portion of their fans and the press. Not so much the case here although I must admit this album being amongst their best. This is really the time when the band finally achieved all their potentials by mixing guitar oriented rock with soul influences and once again this skeletal mood difficult to describe but which is really their own. Good to note as well that this is the start of a series of albums beginning with an amazing track. Best tracks: “The Beast and Dragon, Adored“, “My Mathematical Mind” and “I Summon You“. Rating: 8.5/10
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007): This is a very special album for this blog as I entered Spoon’s world through this amazing album. It remains for me Spoon’s masterpiece and one of the few fantastic albums in rock music where every track you listen to seems to be better than the previous one. I am torn between recommending this album directly to anyone not knowing Spoon or having them listen to this album later but at one stage in your life you should discover this album. Best tracks: “Don’t Make Me A Target“, “The Ghost Of You Lingers” and “The Underdog“. Rating: 10/10
Transference (2010): Spoon were probably in an ideal position in 2010 as they were starting to reach a bigger audience while keeping their more indie rock fan base. As they had built their career with a step by step approach, their new record was again a balance between keeping their sound and experimenting. This made Transference another gorgeous album which was almost as good as their previous masterpiece…and finished in this blog’s end of the year Top 3! Nice William Eggleston cover as well. Best tracks: “Written In Reverse“, “I Saw The Light” and “Got Nuffin“. Rating: 9.5/10
They Want My Soul (2014): A kind of weird record as the band seem harsher and more independent than ever in their words while being probably a bit less inventive than previously. All this is relative really as this is an excellent record full of inventive pop songs. Britt Daniel’s voice keeps on getting better and better as well. Best tracks: “Rent I Pay“, “Do You” and “I Just Don’t Understand“. Rating: 8.5 /10
Hot Toughts (2017): …and here we end our provisory 21-year journey until Spoon latest LP, which was our LP of the month in March of that year. One of their best albums so far and to me probably their best song ever with “Hot Thoughts“. Interesting to notice also the presence of a weird keyboards and saxophone track at the end of the album, proving if need be that this band is here to stay and ready to innovate. Best tracks: “Hot Thoughts“, “I Ain’t The One” and “Tear It Down“. Rating: 9/10
- Concert Review: Kentish Town Forum, 30th June 2017
So indeed great expectations from this gig as you may guess, knowing that the band have indeed more and more followers, a bit like R.E.M. had in the past before becoming massive. Held in the nice Kentish Town area and in the excellent Forum theatre, I found the band even better that my first gig in 2014 at the Shepherds Bush Empire.
It goes certainly without saying but when one is in a position to live from what they like to do, without any financial stress and a solid critic and fan base, one is necessarily in a better position regarding creativity within a nice context of achievement. This is really what I felt by watching Spoon. You can feel a sense of completeness from the band in their music but also on the fact that they know they have an audience ready to follow them through their musical ventures.
It is indeed a sort of paradox but to me the band have never been so pop and arty simultaneously in their music. Britt Daniel is definitely reaching his potential in being a singer and a leader while the band is excelling in all styles, with a particular mention as always to the great drumming of Jim Eno.
The setlist was really cool and well balanced. I will show to the world my Nick Hornby side below as I associated tracks with albums:
- Telephono and A Series Of Sneaks: none
- Girls Can Tell: 1 song (“Anything You Want”)
- Kill The Moonlight: 1 song (“Stay Don’t Go”)
- Gimme Fiction: 3 songs (“I Turn My Camera On”, “My Mathematical Mind” and “I Summon You”)
- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga: 4 songs (“Don’t You Evah“, “Don’t Make Me A Target”, “The Underdog” and “Black Like Me”)
- Transference: 1 song (“Got Nuffin”)
- They Want My Soul: 4 songs (“Inside Out”, “Rent I Pay”, “Do You” and “Rainy Taxi”)
- Hot Thoughts: 4 songs (“Do I Have To Talk You Into It”, “Can I Sit Next To You”, “I Ain’t The One” and “Hot Thoughts”)