Thursday, November 10, 2011
Spoon - Gimme Fiction (2005)
When band leader Britt Daniel attempted to describe the direction he was taking on Gimme Fiction as "Marvin Gaye meets Wire" he came close to hitting the bullseye. Like early Wire, this is taut guitar rock that traffics in tension more than release; and like Marvin Gaye, it's brimming with soul and groove. But as far as sonic antecedents go, I'd also add John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band in there, mostly due to Britt's vocal similarities, but also because of the confident and deliberate use of space to cushion each near-majestic chime of the keyboard. When Britt hits the chorus on opening song "The Beast And Dragon, Adored" he sounds like he's channeling the very soul of Lennon himself and, fittingly, he does so while declaring his rediscovered belief in rock and roll.
Britt's songwriting has always been effortlessly melodic, but here there's melodies upon melodies, more unfolding with each new listen - which almost has to count as a magic trick, because on first blush everything sounds so straightforward you'd expect to tire of it after a second play. On their previous release (Kill The Moonlight) Spoon had pulled the same trick while stripping their sound down to its barest essentials. This time out they've allowed themselves a logical progression to a wider sonic palette, and the results are simply astounding. You may need to invest some time before the slowburn of "The Delicate Place" actually singes, or before the seemingly obvious stomp of "The Infinite Pet" gives way to the dynamics lying just under its skin. Likewise, the jangly pure pop bliss of both "Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" and "Sister Jack" is immediately accessible, but don't make the mistake of assuming that's all they've got to offer.
On Kill The Moonlight's opener "Small Stakes", Britt Daniel declared that his ambition lay well beyond the constricting walls of indie rock. Gimme Fiction razes those walls to rubble.