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Review: Spoon’s ‘They Want My Soul’

It’s been said many times before, but Rock n Roll fans have always taken Spoon for granted. While more sensational acts like Arcade Fire and Radiohead pushed the boundaries of the genre throughout the 00’s, Spoon consistently refined their unique blend of Indie Blues Rock. From 2001’s Girls Can Tell through 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon released four near perfect albums in a row. All of this is a long winded way of saying They Want My Soul is merely good, and with this band good registers as a disappointment.

While many found 2010’s Transference boring and featherweight, I thought it was an intentional effort to strip down their sound from the bloated but brilliant Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Unfortunately, on They Want My Soul, Spoon seems to be trying to recapture the kinetic insomnia of Girls Can Tell, and finding mixed results.

Opener Rent I Pay is a potentially rousing blue’s rock track, but it never finds the hook to justify it’s tone. Ditto second song Inside Out, which aims for the dubbed out ambience of The Ghost Of You Lingers, but just ends up floating by without doing much of anything. From here things pick up, as Rainy Taxi and Do You are both album stand outs. With a few exceptions the record keeps a solid level of quality through to the finish, with closer New York Kiss ending things as perhaps the best song on the album.

This description sounds like a good album, and They Want My Soul is certainly that. The problem is that if Spoon are going to make an album that so dutifully sticks to the template they’ve built over the past decade and a half, it has to be better than just “good”. When Spoon were in their creative peak, half the songs onThey Want My Soul wouldn’t have made it as B Sides. Further, by eschewing risk and making a by-the-books Spoon album, it’s disheartening to think this was the best record the band was capable of in 2014.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. As I’ve said many times now, They Want My Soul is a good album, and at times even approaches greatness. Maybe I just haven’t given the record enough time yet. As crazy as it sounds now, I was underwhelmed by Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga upon release, and it wasn’t until a few months later that it really clicked as the masterpiece it is. Ultimately however, I think They Want My Soul in many way’s sums up 2014 in music so far. While it’s good, and certainly worth listening to for the occasional moment of brilliance, it just doesn’t stand out much. Perhaps I’ll change my tune by the end of the year, but for now I can’t help but feel like They Want My Soul is a lesser work from one of the 21 century’s true masters of Rock.

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