Spoon | Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)

gagagagagaAmong indie bands, Spoon's CD structure often feels the most like Top 40 bands, insofar as their CDs tend to have two or three really good songs, and then a lot of filler.

 

 

 

 

I've been a fan of Spoon's for a long time now, save for one long-running criticism. Among indie bands, their CD structure often feels the most like Top 40 bands, insofar as their CDs tend to have two or three really good songs, and then a lot of filler (only 1998's A Series of Sneaks really holds up as a solid album). Their last new LP, 2005's Gimme Fiction, both confused and delighted me on this front, as it held together as a cohesive album much better than anything since the aforementioned Sneaks, but the lack of obvious singles made it feel like one of their lesser works, or so I decided after listening to it about 15 bazillion times. And now they're following this trend with their newest album, the fun to write but embarrassing to say Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which also coheres nicely, but the average track quality is a little lower than it was on Fiction.

Of course, the first time I listened to the almost-copyrighted Spoon guitar sound and Britt Daniel's jerky, inarticulate articulation on the opening track, "Don't Make Me a Target," I felt like I was home. More specifically, the first three tracks are all classic Spoon, but don't really offer anything new for the seasoned Spoon fan (which is fine with me; I love their formula). The first single from Ga5 is "The Underdog," the only one on the album produced by Jon Brion (is it me, or does this seem like a pretty serious "fuck you" to Mike McCarthy, who produced the rest of the album?). While it is arguably the best track on the album, it's a lot of fun mostly because it starts off appropriately Spoony, only to later give way to a protracted symphonic Brion ending, which makes it feel more like an album closer than a college radio hit.

In the meantime, the remainder of the tracks aside from the first three and seven (the latter being "The Underdog") are sub par, with "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" being the most annoying Spoon song since Girls Can Tell's "The Fitted Shirt"—all the more annoying since it immediately follows the epiphanic ending to "The Underdog." But wait: if there are four or so songs that are good and the rest are bad, doesn't that more or less correspond with my criticism of most Spoon albums being too single-oriented? Well, not exactly, as the gap between the good songs and the bad songs is rapidly closing, and in favor of the wrong side, unfortunately. B- | Pete Timmermann

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