Friday, July 30, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Spoon (new release)

Merge MRG 365 180g LP+MP3 download

Produced by: Britt Daniel and Jim Eno
Engineered by: Nicolas Vernhes, others
Mixed by: D. Sardy, Nicolas Vernhes, Mike McCarthy, Britt Daniel
Mastered by: Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk

Review by: Michael Fremer

Spoon’s latest is an introspective affair that trades the group’s usual tuneful exuberance for something more contemplative. But don’t be aFreud! It’s got all of the group’s signature moves, from deep, behind the grooves beats to catchy melodies set against vast empty spaces punctuated by exclamatory soundscapes.

I don’t follow rock star personal lives anymore so I’m not sure if Mr. Daniels’ love life hit a snag last year, but there’s a feeling of betrayal and of ground shifting under feet in both the music and lyrics.

The opener, “Before Destruction” sets the uncertain tone as does the next in sequence “Is Love Forever.” It sounds as if Mr. Daniels’ world has been turned upside down. If he’s simply imagining it in an effort to get you off-kilter, he’s done a great job of it!

The song titles seem to tell the story: “Trouble Comes Running,” “Out go the Lights” and “Got Nuffin,” but the lyrics are sufficiently obtuse to set the mood while letting your imagination set the table.

The tunes alternate between carefully produced and simply laid down. The back and forth movement mirrors the lyrical shifting sands, helping to produce a package that’s conceptually tight yet ambiguously generous.

Side two’s opener “I Saw The Light” has the group flirting with Lennonesque chord changes and hard-edged guitar riffs in a tune that simultaneously evokes security and dread.

Melody takes a backseat to rhythm, the sense of a band playing live gives way to guys playing in the studio and the effort sounds like a desperate, yet liberating shedding of skin.

Recording quality is impressive in that when the group wants it to sound really good it does and when it wants the sound to be primitive/basic, it sounds that way too. There’s nothing haphazard about it and no guesswork is involved.

Not until song seven “Trouble Come Running Again” do you get the hard driving, tuneful Spoon, though others will remind you of previous efforts and the sense of Spoon continuity remains strong.

The gorgeous lullaby “Goodnight Laura” followed by “Out Go the Lights” shifts the ground to more reflection and less self-pity. With its insistent bass/guitar line and flat melodic riff “Got Nuffin” ups the beat and evokes late ‘70s pop ala The Buzzcocks, or Wire, while the closer “Nobody Gets Me But You” kicks off a Before and After Science vibe thanks to the oozy bass line.

Over the course of the eleven tunes Spoon moves you subtly from an uncertain landscape to one more rhythmically resolute and self-assured. When they’re done you simply can’t wait for the next installment.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by Permission

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