Spoon: Girls Can Tell

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Spoon

Album: Girls Can Tell
Label: Merge

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Spoon's label-leapfrogging could have proved a hurdle too high for the Texas band to clear: Girls Can Tell marks its third record label in five years and three albums. But Spoon has again survived the switch from a significant indie to a major, and back to a big-named indie, with its drive and lineup intact. In fact, the stress seems to have done the trio some good. Girls Can Tell abandons some of the more familiar modern-rock tendencies of Spoon's previous albums, favoring the ambitious structures of art-rock and offering an impressive meeting place between traditional new wave and the abrasive, angular qualities of Wire and Magazine. The insistent guitar and humming (but subtle) vibes and keyboards of "Everything Hits At Once" and "Believing Is Art" are pure drama, invoking both krautrock's hypnotic groove and the pre-release tension of punk, though the inevitable explosion remains teasingly out of range. "Me And The Bean" toys with the space between the notes, enlisting poppy piano to cut through the menacing minor chords and perfectly counter Britt Daniel's intentionally sandpapery vocals. Few outside the band would deny the irony of releasing such a strong album after such an unceremonious major-label dumping. With songs as amazing as the "Kashmir"-quoting "The Fitted Shirt," the agitated "Take A Walk," or the Elvis Costello-esque "Anything You Want" and "Take The Fifth," Spoon gets the last laugh, though hopefully not the last word. The band that once seemed cursed now suddenly appears destined for success.

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