Spoon – Gimme Fiction

Gimme Fiction

Britt Daniel would undoubtedly be a finalist in the MVP race for contemporary rock vocalists. Daniel’s soulful voice and immaculate songwriting talent have carried a number of songs to transcendent heights that, though admittedly well-written, offered little in the way of memorable innovation. Yes, Spoon wouldn’t be half the band without Britt’s remarkable skills.

Of course, no study of Spoon would be complete without the band’s other half – the rhythm and guitars. Spoon seems to have an uncanny knack for simple, straight-forward songwriting. The band makes perfect use of space and rhythm, intertwining individually unexceptional elements to form a rich tapestry of rock ‘n’ roll goodness. The band has followed this general path to great success since A Series of Sneaks, one of its finest albums to date. Kill the Moonlight saw the band further deconstruct the songwriting process, the pinnacle being “Paper Tiger,” a breathtakingly simple song composed of a backwards drum loop and Britt’s unmistakable vocals.

It must be said that Gimme Fiction is not another step in this process. Instead, Spoon has lengthened the songs whilst simplifying the songwriting. There is no “Paper Tiger” on this album; instead, every song is cunning in its simplicity. “The Beast and the Dragon, Adored” sets the tone right off the bat; a piano pounds out a malevolent line and the drums fit perfectly in the gaps. Britt stays on the outskirts, dropping in every few notes with a brief verse. “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine” is one of the catchiest Spoon songs to date, detailing the life of a shifty French aristocrat. “My Mathematical Mind” continues the emphasis on piano, the keys rumbling malevolently beneath a propulsive drumbeat as Daniel soars above. In “The Infinite Pet,” the piano leads a traditional jazz scale, allowing Daniel to let loose the full reaches of his soulful croon.

Further highlights include the Guided by Voices-esque anthem “Sister Jack” and the acoustic love ballad “I Summon You.” But the most adventurous track on the disc is clearly “I Turn My Camera On,” a neo-disco track in which Britt returns to his closet falsetto last taken out for show on Kill the Moonlight’s “Stay Don’t Go.” Daniel nails the track effortlessly, delivering one of the finest vocal performances of the year in one of the truly transcendent moments on Gimme Fiction.

Despite the tracks’ immediate appeal and sturdy consistency, the one concern I maintain is the album’s staying power. Surely Kill the Moonlight surprised me in this department, but the almost lamentably uncomplicated nature of Gimme Fiction may lose some of its luster after an extended period of steady listening. Surely the power of Spoon’s miraculous songwriting skills are enough to keep the listener captivated, but the fact remains that the only surprise the album contains is the apparent lack of innovation. Despite these worries, Gimme Fiction is another excellent example of Spoon’s musical prowess and Britt Daniel’s unparalleled vocal genius. As Daniel himself sings on “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” “When you don’t feel it, it shows / they tear out your soul / and when you believe, they call it rock and roll.” Well, once again, Britt Daniel and Spoon have made a believer out of me.