CD Review: Spoon Page 2

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga doesn't break the string of excellent records that Spoon has turned out since A Series of Sneaks in 1998, but it may be the least spectacular of the batch. It seems less epic than usual, with a shorter running time (36 minutes) and 10 songs that mostly sound fine individually but don't really hang together as a whole. (The individual exception is "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case," the closest thing to a novelty song that Daniel has written and one of his few outright duds.) A full album of "Underdog"-style pop songs would have been too many (Brion works only on that one track), but the band seems at a crossroads, starting to exhaust its trademark sound while not always knowing where to go next. Despite the album's overall quality, this isn't quite the grand slam you'd expect from a band that became one of indie rock's biggest deals since its last release.

In that context, the paranoid mood of the opening "Don't Make Me a Target" is a little puzzling. Still, it's the disc's other killer song, rolling most of Spoon's trademarks into a single track: slow-building tension, emotive voice, and a guitar solo that breaks things open. Along with "Finer Feelings" (which finds an obvious double meaning in the name of Memphis's daily paper, The Commercial Appeal), "Target" seems to address Daniel's mixed feelings about his current place in the spotlight. And that seems to be the undertone of the album as a whole, divided as it is between characteristic "old school" Spoon tracks and the newer, polished approach (also heard on "Eddie's Ragga") - along with oddities like "Cigarette Case" and the far more successful "The Ghost of You Lingers," a breathless piano-based song that builds 3 minutes' worth of anticipation for the full-band crash-in. Which, of course, never happens.

Ga registers as a less ambitious album than the funk- and Krautrock-infused Gimme, but appearances may deceive: At its best, it's Spoon's first real move to a more direct approach. So everybody may be talkin' 'bout their new sound, but it's still rock & roll to me.

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