September 5, 2002

Test Spin: Spoon

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Spoon are not out to rock you; they’re perfectly happy to make you lightly sway. The indie-outfit from Austin, TX has made a career out of stripping down pop-rock gems to the essentials, often leaving only staccato riffs and hand-clapping to compliment Britt Daniels’s marble-mouthed vocals. On 2001’s excellent Girls Can Tell, the group packed their chords tightly, detonating the full-out rock in controlled, yet satisfying, outbursts. On the new Kill the Moonlight, Spoon adds a little more groove to the mix, but the melodic repetition in songs that peter out instead of building up results in a somewhat flat record.

The monotonous opener “Small Stakes” leads into the slight but jaunty piano-driven “The Way We Get By.” Experimentation with Radiohead-ish vibrations and echoes is admirable (and trendy, too), but the end products (“Stay Don’t Go,” “Paper Tiger”) are rather grating and seem like less than fully-formed songs. The band fares best on garage-rock tracks like “Jonathon Fisk” and the criminally short “You Gotta Feel It,” which screams Pixies for all of its 89 seconds. A lightweight follow-up to Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight reveals how Spoon’s preference for funky restraint over release can sometimes make for underwhelming rock.

Archived article by Dan Schiff