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Spoon

Gimme Fiction
Merge

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If Spoon's 2001 disc, Girls Can Tell, marked a turning point for the band, the next year's follow-up, Kill the Moonlight, completed group members' segue from scruffy post-punks to crafters of taut, intelligent pop. On Gimme Fiction, Spoon continues down the path laid by those two previous discs, slicing through sharp, angular guitar hooks with romping pianos, jittery synths, subtle strings and stompy beats, creating a melodic hybrid of new wave, soul, R&B and proto-punk that recalls the likes of Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and the Modern Lovers.

 

Though Spoon veers further from its guitar-rock roots with each subsequent release -- incorporating new structures, broader instrumentation and wider musical references -- the band hasn't done away with the jagged edges that secured its place in the indie-rock canon. The essence of Spoon remains, albeit with a few more sonic layers to peel back.

 

 "I Turn My Camera On," with its staccato pacing, deep-bass groove and falsetto vocals, sounds like vintage Prince fronting the Pixies on a cover of Franz Ferdinand's 2004 hit, "Take Me Out." "They Never Got You" boasts a spare bassline and drumbeat that sounds an awful lot like The Strokes performing a medley of the Cure's "Close to Me" and Hall and Oates' "Maneater." Though these comparisons seem arbitrary and anomalous, that seems to be the modus operandi on Gimme Fiction: juxtaposing disparate elements of classic new wave and polished '80s pop with a contemporary approach. Whereas past Spoon efforts have found lead vocalist Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno and their revolving line-up of bassists and guest musicians deftly exploring the '60s British Invasion, Gimme Fiction spans the late '70s and early '80s, alternately drifting into meandering nostalgia trips and jerking spastically back to the present. On "The Infinite Pet," however, Spoon stretches back a few more decades. In keeping with the analogy of fantasy musical alliances, the brooding, key-driven track evokes an image of Nick Cave thumping out a rendition of Peggy Lee's jazzy '50s torch song "Fever."

 

The implied literary reference in the album title, paired with the cover motif of a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood, positions Spoon members as postmodern storytellers. The fictional super-groups they conjure on Gimme Fiction create an instant sense of familiarity, spinning retro sound bites into a contemporary narrative.

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