They Want My Soul

Spoon

Headz, 2014

http://www.spoontheband.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/13/2015

In her review of the last Spoon album, DV Assistant Editor Melanie Love called Spoon “indie darlings” and then went on to praise the album. Now, when I hear the phrase “indie darlings,” it conjures up an unflattering image of white bearded hispters in tight pants who are obsessed with themselves. Now, I can’t speak to the personalities of people I don’t know, but I have to think that this is a long way from what “indie darling” meant in 1986, when “indie” meant “underground” and bands like R.E.M., Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth were beloved by a small but devoted cult of outsiders who disdained hair metal and New Wave.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Whether Spoon are still indie darlings after their hiatus is up for debate on other, less useful music review websites. The point is that the band has returned after taking some time off for side projects, and this newfound vigor shows in their music. They Want My Soul is a serviceable blend of classic indie/alternative and thoroughly modern indie rock (with slight elements of electronic and hip-hop), and even if it’s only occasionally great, it’s consistently interesting.

The lyrics follow a simple concept about all outside forces that want a piece of us – relationships, jobs, landlords/bill collectors, etc. – and the music follows suit. “Do You” is the hit single, I guess, a sort of Foster The People knockoff (from their first album) with breathy “do-do-do” lyrics to start, some solid acoustic guitar and a dreamy ‘80s-evoking backing track. “Inside Out” is Moby-inspired electronica and the very good “Outlier” draws on U2's Zooropa album (specifically, a slower version of “Lemon”) as a basis for its cloudy, driving rhythm. It's the album's best song and also the only one written by more than singer Britt Daniel.

More modern tracks like “Rainy Taxi” and “Rent I Pay” are energetic garage rockers with attitude and “I Just Don't Understand” has a sort of cool Britpop feel. In fact, nearly the entire album has a familiar feel, as if Spoon is a cover band playing obscure songs you feel like you know but can't quite place by bands you love. Less successful are “Inside Out,” the slow “Knock Knock Knock” and the closing “New York Kiss,” which is just missing the spark it comes so close to having.

It takes talent to use your sources to create something new yet vaguely familiar, as if these songs have been around for a long while and you’re just now finding out about them. And even though it’s not consistently great, much of the album is good, energetic indie pop rock that is worth checking out if you happen across a copy.

Rating: B-

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