CD Spotlight

Moon, June, Spoon

The great irony of the Spoon story is that a band long belittled for being a Pixies clone is now universally lauded for the original way it deconstructs the conventions of rock's guitar-bass-drums dynamic.

The long-awaited Gimme Fiction feels like a continuation and refinement of 2002's Kill The Moonlight. While Kill is generally regarded as Spoon's artistic breakthrough, the big leap forward for the Austin trio actually came the year before on the underrated classic, Girls Can Tell. Girls established singer-guitarist Britt Daniel as a first-rate tunesmith, but Kill demonstrated his willingness - make that eagerness - to rip those tunes apart and see how well they could hold up. Conceptually, though certainly not musically, Spoon invites comparisons with Wilco, because the two bands share a deliberate ruthlessness in the way they screw with their most well-crafted material.

Gimme Fiction is elaborately produced, but its sonic sleight-of-hand is geared toward making the tiniest details jump out of a boldly stark canvas. The fluid funk of the mysterious "Was It You?" gets by largely on the strength of a rudimentary drum beat and a bass part reminiscent of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." When Daniel succumbs to a guitar solo, it's usually in the form of atonal backwards tracks, pure white noise, or the extended string scraping that carries "My Mathematical Mind" to its conclusion.

The album's most irresistible track, "Sister Jack," is a rare concession to full-on jangle-pop: a sardonic lyric about past musical indiscretions ("always on the outside looking in/I was in this drop D metal band we called Requiem") wedded to Daniel's hookiest melody and biggest guitar assault. Even here, however, the band can't resist playing with rhythmic expectations, adding a beguilingly disorienting beat to the last several bars. At this point, Spoon is confident enough to keep its own sense of time.

Gilbert Garcia

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