One of the greatest independent rock bands in America has been hiding in plain sight for years. Spoon, an Austin group led by Britt Daniel, emerged on the indie-rock scene nearly 10 years ago with a clanging jangle of lo-fi clichés they called Telephono. Although some people liked it, it was a spectacularly unremarkable album, and for those of us weary of uninspired Pavement homage, was enough to make us completely ignore Spoon for quite some time.
During that time, Daniel developed into an incredibly strong songwriter with a unique musical vision; Spoon's music rapidly evolved into an engaging blend of sturdy rock rusticism, pop hooks and angular unpredictability that, honestly, couldn't have been pulled off by anyone else. Critical praise built up, a major label deal was mistakenly signed, a really good album was released (Girls Can Tell from 2001), a great and comparatively popular album followed (2002's Kill the Moonlight) and now, with the recent release of Gimme Fiction, it appears that Spoon has indeed arrived … again.
The "discovery" of Spoon has been happening for a while; each new record finds a small wave of born-again fans hopping on the bandwagon. Gimme Fiction will require a much bigger wagon; its craftsmanship and individuality position Spoon above and away from any contemporary movement in rock. From opening to close, it's breathtakingly excellent. As simplistically subdued as it is gleefully rockist, Fiction gives up songs with handclaps and falsetto choruses ("Sister Jack") as easily as it does martial acoustic numbers ("I Summon You") and broke-down piano funk ("The Infinite Pet"). It's the sort of album that instantly sounds so classic, you're ashamed you'd never given the band that made it a real chance.
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