Spoon in retrospective: Girls Can Tell and early projects

Spoon is a band  from Austin, Texas led by Britt Daniel (and, sort of Jim Eno). Earlier this year they released their newest album Transference, and in the tour supporting it they will touch mexican ground in nearly 2 weeks, in what seems will be one of the best nights in Mexican history. In preparation  for this great cosmic success, in the following days (or weeks, depending on my schedule) I will be going through most of their discography in a sort of review/rant manner.

Girls Can Tell is not the band’s first full-lenght. In fact, it’s their third. See, they sort of got Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’ed. Well, maybe not as bad. But they were canned from their label. See, they had two full lenghts called Telephono and A Series Of Sneaks with their first label, Elektra Records. But then something happened and they were shown the door. And while I’m sure these two albums exist somewhere in the universe, I have never gotten around to listening to them more than once.

Then, after that fiasco, they were signed with Merge and finally got around to making some good music and getting recognition in the indie scene. Their first full length with the not-yet-so-famous Merge was Girls Can Tell. Girls Can Tell with it’s entertaining disfunctionality and apparent carelessness. The thing with Spoon is, they aren’t the deepest band ever; their lyrics tend to be very square-ish and at times even not really fitting. They sound good and usually play along with the rhythmic-ness of their music, but they don’t hold much behind them. Sometimes they don’t even make sense. But the band makes up for that with their catchy short songs and their characteristic hybrid of genres. If anything, their lack of eloquence is barely noticeable in this album, at least, compared to the lackluster lyrics that can be found in their following releases.

What I don’t like about this album is that nothing really stands out. There’s no emotive parts or surprising moments in it, and while it never loses it’s catchy elements and it never gets boring it all feels like one big holiday piece of music with no breaks in between it, which isn’t always bad and it’s usually what makes a Spoon album, but in this one it almost gets tiring. Like, as I will talk about later, in Kill The Moonlight there’s this very characteristic sound that every instrument has. Especially the contrast that the piano and the nearly undistorted guitar have that makes up for a beautiful natural, almost jazzy sound. Well, in Girls Can Tell this “sound” isn’t as original and it doesn’t stand out as much. But that isn’t bad. I mean, it’s a very short album, so it isn’t as tiring as I make it seem, it’s just noticeable. You could even say that it has “continuity” or that it “flows”, instead of calling it a brick of (good) music like I did.

Despite the evident negativity that can be found in this review, I thoroughly enjoy this album and I love driving to it. You could even say that it’s one of my favorite Spoon albums, but that would be wrong because nobody can really choose a favorite between Spoon’s 5 great iron-solid albums (Girls, Moonlight, Gimme Fiction, Ga Ga and Transference). It’s a relaxed album, there’s almost no tension or pretentiousness or weird distracting ambition in it. It’s just a fun record. That’s usually how it goes for Spoon and one of the reasons I like them. They might not be perfect, but they know what they’re doing and they don’t take themselves very seriously. They are fun!

By the way, speaking about Merge (and greater cosmic events), I never got around to mentioning on this blog that Arcade Fire -who is signed under Merge Records-, reached #1 at the Billboard charts with The Suburbs in it’s release week. Take that, Eminem! Apparently, this is unprecedented for an indie label, so we made history, guys! You and everybody who bought the beautiful album that The Suburbs is. Congrats, Arcade Fire!

Spoon will be playing under the biggest mural in the world at the Polyforum Siqueiros on September 25th, and Arcade Fire will also be playing the Palacio de los Deportes and the Teatro Cavaret on October 13th and 16th, respectively.

Buy Girls Can Tell:
Girls

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3 responses to “Spoon in retrospective: Girls Can Tell and early projects

  1. Pingback: I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco | The Strangulation

  2. Pingback: Spoon in retrospective (Part 2): Kill The Moonlight | The Strangulation

  3. Pingback: Spoon in retrospective (Part 3): Gimme Fiction | The Strangulation

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