For me, Spoon are one of the great American Indie bands - seemingly always recording, and always on tour. I got into them late, but like all good bands they have a back catalogue that keeps on giving... all the way back to their rough edged debut Telephono.
Telephono led them onto a major label deal with Elektra, who then dropped them after A Series of Sneaks failed to do the required business - a story covered in their Agony of Lafitte EP. Their subsequent records each expanded the success of the last, and 2005's Gimme Fiction seemed like a big hit - with I Turn My Camera On seemingly playing in all the clubs. I guess I was just in the right clubs, as number 44 in the charts doesn't demonstrate sales being where they should for a band this good. Their critical success continues however, and following last year's sidestep into soundtracks (for Will Ferrell's Stranger Than Fiction) Britt Daniel and co are back with another great record.
Don't Make Me A Target heralds the bands return, and quickly seems to address these political times ...or maybe that's just me reading things into it. Either way, politics doesn't get in the way of a thumping good tune, that quickly dispenses with the lyrics for a guitar and piano attack. The Ghost Of You Lingers is on the edge of pretentious, but falls just the right side of brilliant. It's an unconventional song, with effects and layered vocals that seem like they're building up to something which never comes, but where it takes you on it's own terms is more than satisfactory - dark, atmospheric and moody.
Cherry Bomb rolls back the years to the Girls Can Tell era and the kind of high-school story that seems to be the Spoon staple. Touching, moving and sentimental - built around great music with a banging piano trumpet and drums. Don't You Evah is a cover of a song by The Natural History, and there's some classic Spoon in tracks like My Little Japanese Cigarette Case and Don't You Evah.
The album is more of a fall back to the classic Spoon sound, before the mildly misleading diversion of Gimme Fiction. It's the sound of cruising in a 50's hotrod, chasing girls and drinking milkshakes with Richie Cunningham.
The band has moved forward and become more sophisticated, building more complex, layered backgrounds for their deceptively simple songs. There seems to be some influence coming in from the sound track experience and Rhythm and Soul ticks a lot of my favourite boxes to great effect. Great tempo changes. Great keyboards. A touch of Small Stakes Ice Hockey rock. I've narrowed the magic ingredient down to a squeaky little sound or a barking dog - which will make CSF junior chuckle one day. Animal Midnight has it, and so does On Parade.
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is short, at 36 minutes / 10 songs ("the perfect number of songs for an album" apparently), but it never seems it. This is a classy and well-produced record, with some great songs, magic touches and restrained, clever song-writing. It's not a massive step forward - which is no complaint from me, as it is the sound of a great band knocking out another great album.