Soul, funk, groove. Words I have never usually associated with indie. Today, I was listening to a lot of music, as there was a Tube strike, and the office have finally given in to letting admins use their iPods – I discovered a simple thing: nothing else matters apart from the drums. You can play metal, indie, punk, classical, swing, whatever you like, but if you’ve got a funky drummer underneath, it’s just going to be a funk song. Pure and simple.
When applying this rule to Spoon, I find myself in a tad of a quandry. Lyrically, I’m torn: is Britt Daniel an acolyte of Paul Weller? Josh Homme? Lennon and McCartney? Anyone at all? And musically, not having access to Spoon’s back catalogue, but having read reviews of it, this is atypical – still, I like slightly funky soul played by white indie boys… it has a certain “why the hell don’t we just do this?” vibe.
Unlike a lot of indie music, or alternative rock, which all seems at the moment to be trying too hard to sound like their not trying too hard (Cold War Kids spring to mind – their debut is wound up tighter than a neurotic hypochondriac in a TB ward, or Fall Out Boy, whose laughable claims to ’emo’ have withered into a mess of wordplay, Kanye West productions and obsessed 14 year olds with fake tattoos and too-tight jeans), Spoon have just knocked out an album (and a bonus disc) of absolutely stunning music. It flows, it swoons, it punches, it emotes, but most of all, it intrigues me. I love this: not since I got into jazz has a rock record actually made me want to listen to it in detail, to pick apart the instrumentation.
When I listen to jazz, especially piano trio or sax/trumpet quartet stuff, I’m listening to the raw, visceral underbelly of jazz – Spoon evisce that same passion, that same power and that same constant head-scratching, attention-pinning mojo that I love. This is truly detailed music – sly arrangements, interesting lyrical twists, and a frontman with a superbly gorgeous voice. ‘Don’t Make Me A Target’ is the most indie track on the album – still, the lyrical wordplay is at the service of the song, not the reviewer: “Clubs and sticks and bats and balls/For nuclear dicks with their dialect drawls”. The chorus, simply the title, sung with increasing earnestness and vigour, bleeds into a great little guitar line.
The rest of the album spins a web of white boy soul, with funky underpinnings and pianos, guitars, horns, backing vocals, sampled crowd noise and odd spluttery bits of noise, all coalesceing into what I can only describe as funky indie-Motown. Genres will be the death of me, but this album could be the cure.
Don’t Make Me A Target/Don’t You Evah/Eddie’s Ragga/Finer Feelings