spoon_lead

Despite the adage, you can judge a book by its cover. Such as with Spoon‘s eighth studio album They Want My Soul, their first in four years. On it is an outstretched hand with a small cloud that is in all likelihood the soul in They Want My Soul. It’s their way of saying ‘here’s what you’ve been asking for. Take it. It’s yours.’ It seems a bit morbid – more tongue-in-cheek than anything – but not when you’re able to do it on your own terms, which is exactly what they did.

By today’s standards a four-year layoff may as well be an eternity, enough to lose a fanbase or fall out of touch. Unless of course you’re Spoon who has only managed to broaden their appeal over the years. A large part of that has to do with how they spent that time, with each member pursing their own interests – both musical and personal. That intimacy kneads its way into the album livening it up in ways that make taking a break seem like an absolute necessity in terms of establishing longevity.

They sound rejuvenated, but also challenged thanks to producers Dave Fridmann and Joe Chiccarelli who seemed to play the good cop/bad cop role in terms of trying to get them to understand exactly what it is they wanted to achieve. Add a new label and bandmate Alex Fischel and you have all you need for a fresh start.

They Want My Soul is exemplary of how to grow into a craft and that no amount of force feeding will ever replace natural, organic growth – a solid way to kick off the second leg of their career.

Rent I Pay

Opening with a grimy garage-rock inspired jam is the best way to curb any silly notion as to whether or not there would be any kind of post-break lull. The Spooning spirit is alive and well, and the blue collar sentiments show that after all these years they’re ready to get back to what they do best:

Rent I Pay

Inside Out

Stripped down and simple with enough synth and electronic aural touches to make those lucid abstractions seem familiar and commonplace. The juxtaposition draws a wide circle around the passage of time to which Britt is able to manipulate and bend the physics of love. Far out, yet very close to home:

Inside Out

Rainy Taxi

Not quite as surreal as Dali’s version, but still a place to discuss the double edged sword that is love. The emotions are on tenterhooks and despite the desire to stay together there’s a menacing almost threatening tone to the encounter. The beat is full of angst and is unrelenting in its stance:

Rainy Taxi

Do You

The first single, but placed deep enough where it serves as a nice break in the action. The lighter instrumentation helps soften the harder edges, but the mood is still the same – a thoughtful, almost melancholy exploration of love. There’s a distinctly nostalgic feel that makes it a stand alone hit:

Do You

Knock Knock Knock

It’s clean and embraces the potential of sparse instrumentation, a tighter sound that’s more polished and produced than others. The freedom allows for some creative additions including some writhing samples that wrench and distort in just the right way. It represents the call that comes with obsession:

Knock Knock Knock

Outlier

Multiple genres colliding in a way that pays homage to disco, deep house and prog rock – all in equally satisfying parts. It’s a smooth blend that reaches all the peaks and valleys that go along with a great dance song. The vocals soar across the horizon showing just what it means to be an outlier:

Outlier

They Want My Soul

A straightforward title cut that essentially spells it out for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s a throwaway. The Jonathan Fisk character returns, but the twist is that the same guy who that’s based on is now a huge fan. So whether in hate or love he’s still in pursuit of what lies at the heart of Spoon:

They Want My Soul

I Just Don’t Understand

Cover songs – not only is it hard to get past the original but throw in the Beatles, who had a firm handle on the fuzz in fuzz rock, then you have an even greater task in front of you. It’s a bit polished, but the off melodies and multiple layers add body, which gives it just enough to stand on its own:

I Just Don't Understand

Let Me Be Mine

If there was any doubt as to what drives the album consider the matter closed. At this point it seems like for Spoon all that they saw at one point were hands of all sizes, colors and shapes, reaching for them. A bit self-involved but what would an album be without a bit of narcissism. They’ve earned it.

Let Me Be Mine

New York Kiss

Something so sweet and dramatic about a New York kiss like it were a Shangri-La made just for that sole purpose. It’s a dramatic note to exit on but a feeling that they’re able to package and deliver. The blend of raw acoustics and edgy electronic touches strike the right type of balance to exit on:

New York Kiss