I hadn’t paid any attention to the band Spoon until Metacritic used the scientific method (or a reasonable approximation thereof) to declare them band of the decade. Any band to receive that high of an accolade I had to check out. And you know what? These guys are incredible.
Spoon is unassuming. They’re not flashy. They have no gimmicks. They don’t use overly slick production. They’re not in your face. They just play rock music. Drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and the occasional keyboard or horn. That’s it.
Their music is great largely because of their rhythm section, which almost always propels the songs forward at an energetic clip. You can nod your head to their songs, and you will, because they’re catchy. The vocal and guitar tracks are memorable, thoughtful, and propulsive, but oddly discreet. They have edge but not bite.
And as tight as the playing is, the music has a loose, effortless, on-the-fly kind of feel. It’s infectious, like party music, but it’s not disposable. And this is important: they sound like they’re having fun.
In an interview on the All Songs Considered podcast, singer Britt Daniels and drummer Jim Eno come across almost exactly as you’d expect from their music: as regular guys. When asked to comment on their Metacritic distinction of being the best band of the decade, Daniels says, in a wry deadpan, “It’s true.”
But as much fun as their music is, the craftsmanship is also apparent. The songs are constructed in surprising yet ear-pleasing ways. “Got Nuffin,” from their album Transference, for instance, is composed of a dozen or so parts that slowly build to a hypnotic jam that’s impossible to resist. “Everything Hits at Once,” from Girls Can Tell, is similar–it’s an intricately designed piece of music, but all its parts merge and flow into one another so smoothly that you might not even notice its depth.
If I had to pick a fault, I’d say that, like many other bands, they have the occasional tendency to navel-gaze for maybe one track per album. “The Ghost of you Lingers,” the second song on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, for instance, endangers the energy they build up with the excellent first song, “Don’t Make Me a Target.”
But that’s easily forgivable. If you’ve never listened to Spoon, I recommend the album Kill the Moonlight as a good entry point. But you really can’t go wrong with any of their stuff. They’re one of those bands you could listen to every day for a year without getting tired of.
When asked about what drives their creativity in the interview above, Daniels says, “If I’m going to dedicate my life to this band, then I want it to be the best band in the world, and I want to make records that are going to be great forever. I don’t want to do it half-assed.”
That’s who they are, and that’s what they do. They make great music, they do it consistently, and they do it with style.