I disagree with every review of this album I’ve read, which is why I wanted to review it. While seemingly everyone has heralded GaGaGaGaGa as Spoon’s best album yet, I find it to be a disappointment -- a failed attempt at re-creating the magic of its predecessor, Gimme Fiction.
While the gaggle of teeny-boppers who have heard the single “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” playing in stores at the mall are probably under the impression that GaGa is the first album from a new band with a cool name, Spoon is far from new to the music scene. The band was formed in 1993 by frontman Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno. Since then, Spoon has undergone a few lineup changes as well as record company switches and released six major-label albums.
First off, let me say this: I consider myself to be a fan of the band. I wanted to love this album, I’ve tried to, but I just can’t. Don’t get me wrong; GaGa is, by no means, a terrible album. You could play it during a party and no one would complain. It provides easy-listening noise to have on in the background -- there is nothing jarring or unpleasant about it. But that’s just it. There’s nothing about it that grabs me, nothing that stands out. It is -- dare I say -- boring. While it certainly sounds more mature than some of Spoon’s earlier albums (and rightfully so, since the band has gotten older), I can not think of a single song on the album that I can say I love, contrary to the beauty of such Gimme Fiction greats as “The Beast and Dragon Adored,” “My Mathematical Mind,” “Merchants of Soul,” and even the simple, poppy, acoustic tune “I Summon You.” GaGa instead just sounds like Spoon got lazy.
The album opens with a very simple tune titled “Don’t Make Me A Target,” which is rather repetitive, and lines like “He never claimed to say what he says / He smells like the inside of closets upstairs / The kind where nobody goes,” prompt me to wonder if Daniel was struggling to come up with something to say here. Then, with about a minute-and-a-half left of the song, the band seems to attempt to capture some sort of jam vibe, but it just slips out of their grasp and the result is terribly uninteresting.
The second track is a drum-less, monotonous piano rant entitled “The Ghost Of You Lingers,” which is interesting at best but not something that I need to listen to twice. This is followed by the ridiculous, upbeat tune “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb,” which features, of all things, a horn section and Daniel repeatedly singing about blowing out a cherry bomb. No wonder it was played in the mall.
This is basically the trend of the songs featured on GaGaGaGaGa: boring, safe, a watered-down version of Spoon. Even the album’s much talked-about first single “The Underdog,” which also features a horn section and reached #14 on the Billboard charts, is something of a disappointment, and at times its melody line mirrors that of “Cherry Bomb.”
Daniel’s raspy, sexy voice, coupled with his very own style of soulful talk-singing has always been, for me, one of the best reasons to listen to Spoon. This time around, it’s the only thing that kept me listening the whole way through. There are, of course, high points. The album’s most recent single, “Don’t You Evah” is as close to greatness as GaGa gets.
I think GaGaGaGaGa is worth a listen, maybe two. If you have been introduced to the band by this album and are not impressed, I suggest delving into their back catalogue. Spoon is a great band, and everyone else seems to love this album. If you do, too, good for you. Perhaps it’s just me.