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Spoon’s new album conveys natural confidence

Observer Scene | Thursday, October 13, 2005

Most people have probably heard of Spoon, but most people, excluding the indie music aficionados, have probably not listened to Spoon. Which is a shame – Spoon is one of the most under-rated bands with the best talent. Fortunately, what allows them to continue making music is their fiercely loyal fan base.

Released in the summer of 2005, Spoon’s “Gimme Fiction” is the band’s fifth studio album in their 11 years together. Their previous effort, “Kill The Moonlight,” gained them critical respect as well as scenester credit – Spoon soon became a staple of the alternative music repertoire.

Now, three years later, Spoon is a band whose next album was greatly anticipated by all those familiar with them. “Gimme Fiction” is not a huge departure from the band’s previous efforts. However, there is a noticeably greater level of confidence conveyed in the compositions. Everything on the album feels like it fell together naturally.

Spoon has really mastered subtly – in chord changes, dynamics and rhythm. It’s true what they say – sometimes less is more. The drum set takes its role as the prominent source of musical cohesion through all the songs, tying the rhythmic piano and guitar to the vocals.

The album begins strongly with “The Beast And Dragon, Adored.” A laid back drum set rhythm keeps the piano and guitar from feeling too purpose-ridden in their casualness, and a messy guitar part tops off the whole piece with a little bit of fuzz as if to say, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

“The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine” is a fun, toe-tapping piece with low piano parts that add depth to a rather simple tune.

One of the favorites, “I Turn My Camera On,” is the first song to feel a little more tension than the others. A sense of uneasiness and uncertainty is created by the miniscule rhythmic discrepancy between the guitar’s chords and the high hat’s rhythm. It creates a surprising, refreshing and abruptly ending change of pace in the album.

“I Summon You” shines with skiffle-sounding guitar simplicity. “The Infinite Pet” is held together by a catchy bass clef piano part. “Was It You?” is a bit more reminiscent of Spoon’s experimentation in chill electronica – the instruments used are unique from the usual piano and guitar found in the rest of the album.

“They Never Got You” builds momentum with the use of barely-noticeable, yet genius, chord changes. “Merchants Of Soul” ends the album with a slightly exotic sound, which includes a string section and handclaps.

Comparable to “Kill The Moonlight” in quality, but not quite as classic, “Gimme Fiction” encompasses all the facets of Spoon – electronic, acoustic and very laid-back aspects are all included. “Gimme Fiction” is extremely driven by the simple beats of the drum set. Lead singer Britt Daniel’s voice, because it is not too distinctive or extraordinary, lends itself well to the music of Spoon by not allowing the vocals to overshadow the instrumentation.

This album inspires toe tapping, head nodding and singing along more than it does dancing or rocking.

“Gimme Fiction” is the kind of music that makes for an extremely good driving-around-at-night-with-no-place-to-be soundtrack.