This is the second part of a five part series of Spoon in preparation for their upcoming concert at the Polyforum Siqueiros in Mexico City which I’ll be attending.
Kill The Moonlight is the first album that I heard from Spoon, and I actually had it in my collection way before I was into Spoon. The story goes that there was a Fox series called The O.C. that I was very much into back when it was good and they hadn’t killed all the characters or ruined their lives. Well, in that series they usually had a good soundtrack and it often influenced what I was listening to, and in one episode there was this feel-good pop song called “The Way We Get By” that I got very much into. Then I got the album and gave it a couple of spins but never really gave it a chance. Time passed and I kept hearing about this band called Spoon but they were already done with me, until I finally had enough of the hype and decided to give them another listen. Then I got obsessed.
Spoon was barely over the quasi-success of their first album with Merge Records, Girls Can Tell, when they came out with this beast about a year after. And well, this was the album that really made them famous; and it’s also the one where they expanded their sound, going against the whole wall of sound that I talked about in the Girls Can Tell retrospective. My gripe with Girls was that there was very little experimental factors in it, if at all (“This Book Is A Movie”); every instrument sounds the same always and it gets tiring after a while. Well, from the start of Kill The Moonlight with “Small Stakes” you can notice a very big difference in their squareness.
It was a big jump, but it wasn’t that much of a departure from their original sound. While there were new elements like acoustic guitars, a wide range of keyboard effects and songs that were less guitar driven, and something that sounds like trumpets, their style and song-writing are still pretty much intact. It’s the execution that changed. What helps this album a lot is that the production is top notch. Really, everything that I didn’t like about Girls is fixed here; I complained about how there was very little distinction between the instruments and how everything seemed to combine into this big brick of sound and nothing stood out, but in Moonlight it’s all the contrary. Every instrument is clearly noticeable, it’s very stripped down but that’s a good thing.
And I’m gonna take a moment to talk about one of my favorite songs ever, “All The Pretty Girls Go The City”. This song, which I believe is very underrated, englobes everything that I love about Spoon. A simple, discrete, yet noticeable bass line, rhythmic drums, a classy piano that adds the best element of the whole song, and a noisy guitar that occasionally jumps in to add a nice touch to the song. Add that with Britt Daniel’s nicely put lyrics, his weird accent and crunchy voice and you have one of the most addicting and representative songs that I’ve ever heard.
This is also the first album where Spoon introduced an element that has become characteristic in all of their albums: their background studio noise. Have you noticed how in every Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga song there is some studio chatter that follows the end and start of every song? Well, that element started here. It’s a very basic thing, kind of stupid, but it adds a “live” element to their albums. It makes you feel like you are in the studio, really. It’s a nice touch. This album is very much representative, of what they would do later on. It’s sort of where they laid down everything they had just to take a look at it and then expand on it later. There are moments where everything is stripped down and very basic like on Transference (“All The Pretty Girls Go The City”), then there are moments with super poppy, stuck-in-your-head songs like in Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (“The Way We Get By”), and there are plain awesome rock moments like in Gimme Fiction (“Jonathon Fisk”). Here’s to Spoon most complete album.
Also, the cover is awesome, in a weird way.