There are a lot bands that I’m vaguely aware of, and feel like I should probably listen to but don’t get around to. And one reason I never get around to them is because the little exposure I get does nothing for me. Spoon is definitely one of those bands. I know people love Spoon. I know they’re an institution at this point. I know I shouldn’t have ignored them for the last two decades plus, if I was going to pretend to know anything about indie rock. But here we are in 2021 and I’m pretty damn sure this is the first Spoon album I’ve ever heard. And that’s at least in part because the few songs of theirs I’ve heard have left basically no impression.
Daniel’s songs are good. He’s got a good sense of melody and, to the extent that I paid any attention to his lyrics, those seem fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s considered one of the better songwriters of 21st century, um, “indie rock” especially if he’s grown as a songwriter since this record. One thing you cannot criticize this record for is a lack of melody.
The songs are relatively brief, punchy and everything is very sparse. There’s guitar, bass, drums, sometimes a keyboard or other guitar and some backing vocals. There’s a lot of space compared to the “indie rock” I’m familiar with. That’s probably a good thing fr the sake of these songs, which aren’t particularly arty or weird.
Which brings me to my only real quibble: what exactly about this is “indie rock”? With Spoon, and some of their contemporaries, we appear to reach the point in indie rock as we did with alternative: where the genre name has lost all meaning and now just describes mainstream contemporary rock music. This music in no way reminds me of the things that make ’90s indie rock “indie rock”. And that’s not a criticism of this music. Rather it’s a criticism of our inability to classify music in ways that make sense. This is what early aughts middle of the road rock music sounds like (that clearly isn’t indebted to classic rock or alternative or whatever) . We could just call it pop rock, right? But I guess then we’d lose the context? I don’t know. I just know that this doesn’t sound “indie rock” to me. It sounds like pop rock/power pop. (Wikipedia lists it as “art rock” which is even more laughable.)
Oh, do I like it? Not really. But it’s a good album, far as I can tell.