Everyone has an opinion on Spoon?s black ‘n’ blue-eyed soul these days. Us? The Austin crew’s sixth record is way more likable than its title: While its song structures aren’t as minimal as Kill The Moonlight (Spoon’s take on anti-pop, GBV-style ambience and fragmentation), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s tighter than Gimme Fiction — the earlier record’s 11 songs in 44 minutes to Ga’s 10 songs in 36 and change — more emotionally engaged, and less likely to produce a song for a car commercial.
We predict the collection, a bona fide grower, will be tagged Spoon’s bout with studio tinkering, but we dig the extra creaks and crackles, Wilco squiggling, studio chatter, and even the guitar-as-whale sounds (really). Our favorite moment of this sorta thing’s the plug/unplug feedback beside the jaunty guitars of “Don’t Make Me A Target” and its Peanuts-meets-“That’s The Way We Get By” bounce. Or maybe the insistent chopsticks on spooked, distorto-tastic anti-waltz “The Ghost Of You Lingers.” No need to fret, rockers, Britt serves plenty of straight-up hooks: “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” mixes echo trails with its swaggering happy-core handclaps and “The Underdog”‘s “Sister Jack” bounce evokes the Walkmen’s sunny “Louisiana” with its beachfront horns (and, why not ? more handclaps).
Of course, we have some complaints; Ga’s tight, not flawless. “Don’t You Evah” doesn?t seem worth the energy or the silly spelling (true it’s a cover of an unreleased Natural History track or is Wikipedia fucking with us again?) and “Eddie’s Raga” builds and builds, then limps and limps. But, back to this thing growing: Initially tedious, “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case” opened/bloomed after half a dozen listens (though regarding that flamenco guitar — maybe an unnecessary trip to the equipment store?).
All said, two out of 10 ain’t bad.
It’s always wise to begin and end strong and Spoon bows with one of our favorites, the tension-cutting ballad “Black Like Me” (no, nothing racy?seems “street tar in summer will do a job on your soul”). The three-minute outro’s a sweet parlor trick, something Blake Swarzenbach might’ve used to end one of his late-period records (only different). In the waning seconds, Daniel makes a little request: “All the weird kids up front / tell me what you know you want.” So, weird kids, is this what you wanted?
Ga? is out 7/10 on Merge.