Music Review: Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

by Stephen Tringali

Each time Spoon enter the recording studio, they seem to restate their objectives like a team of calculating musical scientists: somewhere within their collective exists the perfect indie-pop record. It contains collar-popping bass lines, handclaps and drumsticks, sharp guitar stabs, and one hell of an ass-shaking piano romp.

Spoon’s newest album, the strangely titled Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, is their latest thesis. And though it doesn’t place them any closer to perfection than their 2002 album Kill The Moonlight did, it’s still an excellent listen.

“Don’t Make Me A Target” begins Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in typical Spoon fashion. Lead singer/guitarist Britt Daniel sings coolly over a series of short guitar chords. As the song continues, Daniel shouts the song’s titular mantra louder and louder, the guitar chords get bigger and bigger, and soon the cymbals are crashing all around. The song turns out to be quite different from past Spoon material. Sure, it’s got the signature touches. But it’s also got a foot-stomping, jam band coda — a slight but certainly appropriate step outside Spoon’s finely crafted pop confectionery.

The rest of the album, however, doesn’t stray too far from that safety zone. Spoon balance their requisite bass-thumpers like “Don’t You Evah” and their minimalist rock compositions like “The Ghost Of You Lingers” evenly with their soon-to-be-acquisitioned-by-a-TV show pop songs like “The Underdog.”

Some might say that this isn’t what a progressive band should be doing. Any self-respecting indie group with these intentions should be moving on, changing up their formulas, and designing musical revolution. If they fail to do so, they’ll likely release their best album first and then follow that release with a series of lesser material.

Spoon avoids falling into this categorization, despite several other bands that suggest a move like this would only stagnate creativity. But Spoon ignore those musical histories. They don’t wish to be one of the Radioheads or the Wilcos or the Becks — artists who change their sound so much from one album to the next that sometimes they sound like an entirely different band.

No, Spoon seem to find more satisfaction in being like The Black Keys, never recording one standout album but always putting out consistently good records. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(Promotional photo of Spoon from Merge Records. To see Spoon's video for "The Underdog," please check below.)

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