Feb 10 2022

Album Review: Spoon – Girls Can Tell (#MWE)

With Girls Can Tell, the Austin band Spoon found their winning formula of minimal, structurally simple, and effortlessly cool rock’n’roll, a style they’ve only improved upon since. Cleaner, more polished, and more rehearsed than their previous effort A Series of Sneaks, the album finds the group perfecting a sound influenced by oldies and general, casual swagger. Where previous efforts were filled with feedback and scrambling, tense songwriting, Spoon swings for the fences by acting like they don’t care, and it fucking worked. Considering how well they’ve been able to build upon this sound to international stardom, that last sentence feels like the understatement of the century.

Before Girls Can Tell, Spoon were almost done. Elektra had dropped them after two underperforming albums, and the last project before they began this album was a single with a couple of tracks shitting on their old A&R guy. The band sounded bitter and, almost, coming to the realization that they might be moving on from making music. The fact that they gave everything one last try, honed their sound, and put out something as marvelous as Girls Can Tell, is all the more remarkable within that context.

A variety of instruments used on the album weren’t really common to hear on indie rock records, particularly in 2001 – alongside chugging guitars and Brit Daniel’s expressive-yet-somehow-kinda-deadpan delivery, we are treated to mellotron, cello, harpsichord and viola. The band trades in Pixies abrasiveness for Elvis Costello nonchalance (and songcraft directly inspired by the classics). Once Spoon decided to focus their sound more on the 70s and less on the more-recent 90s, the evoked a confidence not found on their music previously.

Girls Can Tell is a quick 36-minute listen, but it packs a punch of brilliant melody, diversity in structure, and a consistent theme of cooler-than-you indie rock attitude. Just as the genre was starting to get the shine it was due, Spoon were one of the marquee acts, all thanks to this home run of a third album.

Score: 8/10

Sep 23 2011

FFF6 Playlist Series – Saturday’s Orange Stage

A friend of mine and I were discussing the awesome awesome lineup for Fun Fun Fun Fest this year, and recently, they announced their schedule for our viewing pleasure. My friend was excited, but admitted he knew only a few bands. Where, he wondered aloud, could he find a comprehensive rundown of each band, a sampling of their musical chops, so he could further educate himself before the finest weekend of his year? I assume the Fun Fun Fun website has such a playlist, and they do, and it’s cool, but I wanted to make my own. So every Friday, from now until the fest (that’s nine weeks), I will be posting a playlist for your educational purposes for each stage and day, excluding the Yellow stage, which is mostly comedy.

This week’s playlist covers the bands playing on the Orange (Indie) stage on Saturday – Maneja Beto, Future Islands, Joe Lally, The Joy Formidable, Tune-Yards, Tinariwen, Ra Ra Riot, M83, Girls, Lykke Li, and Spoon.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Missing From Playlist (not on Spotify yet): Keep Shelly In Athens

My Stage Pick: M83

Like there was any doubt who I would be picking this time around.  Anthony Gonzalez and his crew are one of my favorite bands ever, and the new album is incredible.  You can bet I will not be missing the opportunity to hear the fresh material live and seeing them live for the first time ever.  M83 is not only my personal highlight for this stage/day, but the entire fest.  But for what it’s worth, I’m also pretty stoked for Tune-Yards and The Joy Formidable.