This is Spoon’s 10th album and their first since 2017’s Hot Thoughts and I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t been for covid this would have arrived much sooner. However the time spent in lockdown has allowed singer and frontman Britt Daniel to collaborate much more with friends and fellow artists like Andrew Cashen and Jack Antonoff. From the outset they have always been about a kind of pure rock’n’roll minimalist approach. The opening riff to “Held” takes us into safe and familiar territory to anyone who has a passing familiarity of the works of Spoon. Classic American rock riffs a la Tom Petty, tough, gritty muscle shirt production from Dave Fridman, and cool smoky vocals from Our Britt Daniel. It is in fact a cover of a Smog song but if you didn’t know you would think it was classic Spoon. Heavy minimalism would appear to describe this band as evidenced by the ‘Texas Riff’ of “The Hardest Cut”, their latest single (reviewed here), especially to the short but sweet Zepp I style solo, and elsewhere the snappy “On The Radio” cements the catchy grooves and the instant feel-good factor of their best work. They make it all seem so easy.
They also show on songs like “Astral Jacket” and “My Babe” that they can also turn their hands to the more sensitive toned-down song, straight ahead love songs to tequila come downs, with beautiful keyboard and piano runs and acoustic strumming with minimal wurlitzer arpeggios.
They leave it until the last song to address an issue raised during lockdown where the enforced idleness can make you address the worst in yourself ‘that thing that can keep you on the couch and maybe doing nothing for a week, self-indulging’, describing that character as “Lucifer On The Sofa”, ‘chasing every thought’ and ‘never getting dressed’.
Britt Daniel has described this album as ‘just a rock ‘n’ Roll record’ which in many ways it is, but it’s hard to make a bunch of straightforward tunes sound like instant classics, and Spoon seem to do it more than most. A lot of bands who attempted this would be lucky if they had one which worked all the way through like Spoon seem to do. Songs which on the surface appear pretty simple and nothing more than the sum of their guitar, bass, drum parts, but time and again Spoon release records which elevate this into an art form. It’s a feel-good record for sure and yes, it is indeed a rock ‘n’ roll record, but it is also a minimalist masterpiece and fits alongside such classics as “Damn The Torpedos” and “Pink Flag”. There’s no self-indulgent prog, or kitchen sink strings here…no overblown orchestra or 20-minute solos. Everything is tight, well played and succinct, everything is neat and just as it should be…and everything ‘feels alright to me’.
Lucifer on The Sofa is out now via Matador Records
Find out more on Spoon’s official website
Review by Andrew Wood