Album Review - Spoon, 'They Want My Soul'

They Want My Soul
Loma Vista

You can’t blame a man for being consistent. Or consistent in his inconsistencies. That’s Britt Daniel all over. The 43-year-old Spoon front man has remained a collected, cool cat since his band’s 1996 debut, Telephono (Matador). His troupe has been a solid contributor to an indie scene that’s thick with memorable bass (“I Turn My Camera On”) and slacker cause celebre (“The Way We Get By”). No harm, no foul. No other music group in Spoon’s universe can boast such a winning catalog over 18 years.

They Want My Soul, the shakin’ foursome’s first release since 2010’s Transference (Merge), walks the line between Spoon’s natural progression and the slinky habits of Daniel’s side project Divine Fits. From that collaboration with Handsome Furs/Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner TWMS borrows a groovier mindset (see the whistling slither of “Knock Knock Knock”). It also borrows Divine Fits keyboardist Alex Fischel, who adds a spacey synthetic element to the sometimes too cautious rock band. His contribution can be heard most profoundly on the cosmic swirl of “Outlier,” which ripples out among Jim Eno’s conga-like drums and Eric Harvey’s urgent acoustic guitar scrapes.

Much is being made about the cunning way of words on this record. “Outlier” lambasts the Zach Braff flick Garden State (guess fellow scenesters the Shins didn’t change Daniel’s life). And the cheery yet bruising title track references Jonathon Fisk, a real-life bully of the singer’s who first appeared in Spoon lyrics on 2002’s Kill the Moonlight.

Who really wants the blond baby-faced performer’s soul? Try everyone in the business, if it means absorbing his innate ability to create constantly enjoyable work. There are a few questionable missteps here (the saloon-y faux glam of “Let Me Be Mine” and the morose Brit-pop cover of Ann-Margret’s “I Just Don’t Understand”), but longtime Spoon fans will absolutely dig this new album.

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