September 08, 2002

Spoon "Kill the Moonlight"

Expectations. They can kill a record. Spoon are a band who have, through a continual series of events, created expectations. From the excellence of their debut Telephono, the Spoon fan sat in expectation of their next big record. Luckily, they hit a grand slam with A Series of Sneaks. Then....nothing. After having some label issues, the loyal Spoon fan had to wait nearly three years for their follow-up, Girls Can Tell, which had already been in the can for a year and a half by the time it saw release.

Now, with a loving, supportive label, Spoon has something they've never really had: stability. This stability frees up the need to prove themselves. Their previous album, Girls Can Tell, was an excellent record, but in the face of the all-out abandon of their previous records, over time it grew more sedate and eventually stale. Not that the songs are bad, but it felt like Spoon was holding back its maturity. Of course, in the face of all of the label problems, such restraint is easily understood. Who could blame them for wanting to make a warm, mature record, especially considering all the crap they'd been through? Instead of the uncertainty of Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight is a cool, unrestrained, and, damn it, PURE experience.

Kill the Moonlight starts off, however, on a rather weak note. The keyboard driven "Small Stakes"--which was up in mp3 form, as well as featured on the recent Merge Records sampler, Survive and Advance, Volume One--could easily pass for a Bob Pollard outtake. It's one of Spoon's weakest moments, but don't fear, for it's also Kill the Moonlight's weakest moment. And, my oh my, the record kicks in to hyperdrive afterwards! Your head will literally swim by the time you get to "Stay Don't Go" and "Johnathon Fisk," you'll realize that Kill the Moonlight is a shameless whore of a record--slutty and gritty and dirty--and something you'll totally want at your next party.

The big story with Spoon 2002 would be the fact that they've finally melded all of their past styles--from the raw moments of A Series of Sneaks to the slower, piano-driven moments of Girls Can Tell--into one cohesive, strong, powerhouse of a sound. Like A Series of Sneaks it's one helluva driving album, not stopping for one second to pause. From the piano-driven "The Way We Get By" to the human beatbox of "Stay Don't Go" and the mellow moments of "Don't Let it Get You Down" and the closing "Vittorio E," this is the Spoon you've always known and loved, except all grown up and gettin' rather naughty.

If it sounds like I'm rambling, you're right. I'm giddy with excitement. I've always felt that Britt and company had a really, really great record in them, and I've been proven right. Kill the Moonlight is a modern indie-rock jewel: it's clearly rooted in classic rock, yet it's not sticking around for the jaded hipsters to scream "irony!!". One of the few records where I just have to break down and say, honestly, that you'll only be doing yourself a great, grand favor by buying and jamming to it on your car radio.

---Joseph Kyle

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