Friday, May 18, 2007

Reviews:: Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (first thoughts)

It’s extremely hard to stay current with a band like Spoon, because almost every song requires countless listens to truly, fully appreciate. Much to Merge’s dismay, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga leaked and started to trickle onto the NET (and by trickle, I mean flooded) along with countless fan’s opinions. For a lot of bands, people’s initial reaction is usually accurate, but when it comes to Britt’s unique brand of song writing, I find something I missed with every listen.

Sure, the crunched guitar sound and his voice are standard, but my gut reaction usually ends up being different from the way I feel about the record two months down the road. Before hearing a peep of this record, I wondered how the soundtrack scoring would affect (and hopefully improve his already amazing songwriting skills). Would Britt start painting with longer strokes? Well, he did and he didn’t. Some of the songs seem more, I don’t know, purposeful? But did the songs change as much as I thought they would? Again, I’m not sure. A smattering of well placed horns help, but do they go far enough?

That’s why I’m reserving judgment of Ga * 5. I’m going to give my initial reactions, and I think over the next few months (especially after seeing some of the songs performed live at Sasquatch next week) I think my opinion will change. Right now, I think there are several standout tracks and Britt and Jim really threw enough curves to keep us all guessing. Was I blown away? At times, but let me stress that I don’t think that is a cut n’ dry statement.

I’ve been listening to the record non-stop as I walk the streets of Paris this last week and despite the fact a lot of the sounds are short and crisp, it has combined with the street scenes and old style police sirens to paint a cinematic landscape. Britt and Jim (and their rotating cast of musicians) have never ventured into lush arrangements, but I’ve realized that unlike, say the Zidane film Mogwai scored, this Spoon record could easily fit into a city based movie ... a movie I’d like to be watching.

Don’t Make Me a Target has been floating around since Britt played it at SXSW two years ago, and is a perfect starting point for the record. Simple elements. Most Spoon songs rely on basic sounds combined perfectly. The track steps along, using a fairly standard scale, before breaking down into a free for all for the last minute and a half. The piano, guitar and drums swirl aimlessly, but somehow still sound somewhat cohesive. The arrangement hasn’t changed enough for me to call it a new song, so the first signs of a new Spoon started with the fantastic simplicity of The Ghost of You Lingers. This is exactly the type of change I never expected, but somehow (after hearing it) wanted them to make. It’s just a simple piano line, reverbed vocals and a smattering of atmosphere, but it come together so well.

It’s actually from this point on that the record seems more interesting to me. The swell of horns, percussion and the falsetto in the distance all make the tapestry on You Got Your Cherry Bomb detailed and enjoyable. They band still drifts into familiar territory (Rhythm & Soul for example), which is more than ok with me. I don’t need a Radiohead transition on each record, but like the band, I don’t want the same record every time. Bouncy bass line and double kicks/tight snares make these songs incredibly catchy. I don’t know how anyone can hear the guitar burst and bassline on Eddie’s Ragga and not be intrigued.

Sure, there are some slips – like the sadly boring My Little Japanese Cigarette Case – but it is followed up with the fantastic maraca/hand clap driven Finer Feelings. After about ten listens I can’t find much fault with this record and in the upcoming months, I bet I’ll find even more things to gush about.
MP3:: The Ghost of You Lingers

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Posted at 12:55 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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