So Spoon has done it again, and perhaps better than they'd ever done it before. Gimme Fiction is the band's fifth full-length since their 1996 Matador debut Telephono, and it is phenomenal. Frontman Britt Daniel has always had an ear for quality, and each Spoon record -- yes, including Telephono, which still sounds significantly rawer than the rest of the band's catalog -- has had the markings of a man who knows how to keep filler out of his recordings. What makes Gimme Fiction such a pleasant surprise is not, therefore, how good it is in comparison to rest of Spoon's output, but how it goes about being so good.
Each Spoon release since their debut has seen the band moving further away from a straight-ahead rock sound; the band's last album Kill the Moonlight saw them eschew guitars altogether in a couple instances. And as good as Moonlight was, I missed that immaculately produced, crunchy Spoon guitar sound showcased so well on their only Elektra record A Series of Sneaks. AllMusic slaps the "Guys' Night Out" label on that record's "style," and while I'd argue that the disc isn't dudely enough to fit on a jukebox with Springsteen or, uh, Leppard, there's something... well, muscular about A Series of Sneaks when compared to the excellent but toned-down Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight. But all this is by way of introducing Gimme Fiction.
Although I trust that many of you readers have already gotten your hands on this record somehow or other, let me tell you why you should buy it. Simply put, this record is completely solid. To be honest, I didn't really like Kill the Moonlight that much; if it had had a song as tight as "Everything Hits at Once" from Girls Can Tell, I might have been able to overlook some of the less arresting material. Gimme Fiction, meanwhile, is jammed with such highlights. "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" is a strutting opener, featuring reverbed-out piano backing and the best "sloppy" guitar parts this side of A Ghost is Born. Better, really. "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" and "Sister Jack" rock like Spoon used'ta, "I Turn My Camera On" out-Becks Beck, and "My Mathematical Mind" sounds like a more mature Ben Folds might. And I haven't even named all my favorites. But why bother? Spoon have crafted -- yeah, crafted -- a mature, polished, and even fun record that sounds great and demands listening.
1. The Beast and Dragon, Adored
2. The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine
3. I Turn My Camera On
4. My Mathematical Mind
5. The Delicate Place
6. Sister Jack
7. I Summon You
8. The Infinite Pet
9. Was It You?
10. They Never Got You
11. Merchants of Soul