In 1998, years before they managed the impressive feat of both critical acclaim and mainstream success, Spoon was on a major label. The group signed to Elektra and released their sophmore album, A Series of Sneaks. The album was a flop by industry standards of the time, and saw the band ‘retreat’ to Merge. With their newfound creative freedom, they released some of the best albums of the 2000s. It stands to reason that a label change for a group as talented as Spoon can reinvigorate the formula, and that’s exactly what Britt Daniel and co. have managed with their new record. After four years of relative silence, the group have parted ways with Merge. They Want My Soul arrives August 5th on Loma Vista.
Leading up to the release of the record, Spoon suggested They Want My Soul would feature a “slightly more R&B direction”. The influence does appear, but more in spirit than direct homage. “Rainy Taxy” begins with a Martha and the Vandellas-esque backbeat (complete with xylophone and steady piano), but quickly transforms into a melody reminiscent of a 60s spy film. It’s as much a dancefloor killer as it is an ode to paranoia, and a perfect representation of how easily Spoon can mix moods in one track without sounding messy.
Traces of dub and electronica enter as early as the second track, “Inside Out”, but Daniel still manages to implement his signature rock-and-soul gravel with ease. His lyrics on the track are as terse and immediate as ever: “Times gone inside out, time gets to start again. Theres a tense gravity: I don’t got time for holy rollers”. At the end of the track, the melody blisfully fades into a dense echo, mirroring some of the minimal sound experiments found on Kill The Moonlight and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The song is meticulously crafted, and crushes any thoughts that band is losing their touch.
They Want My Soul is another in a series of landmarks for Spoon, and sits perfectly alongside the rest of their catalogue. It’s one of the stronger records released this year, and cements their place as one of the great rock bands of the century.