Review Summary: A brilliant, concise and infectious album from one of the most consistent groups around.
About a year ago my friend lent me a bunch of good music for my listening pleasure. One of the bands he introduced me to was Spoon, with their album Gimme Fiction. Unlike some of the other bands (such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Electric President) I found Spoon were very easy to get into. While I now appreciate the other stuff given to me (such as the aforementioned artists), I will always remember Spoon as being the easiest to just pick up and get into right away. That is the best way I can describe not only Spoon, but specifically their third album Kill the Moonlight. Throughout the record’s pithy running time, the listener will be subject to some of the catchiest songs that straddle the line between the experimental and accessible.
I am hard pressed to find a particularly sour track on Kill the Moonlight. The beat box backing on “Stay Don’t Go” can grow a bit tiresome and annoying, and thus steps out as my least favourite song. However when this song is sandwiched between three great songs prior to it, and my favourite song following it, there is simply no room for complaints. That song, which follows “Stay Don’t Go”, is “Jonathon Fisk” and serves as an excellent piece of pure rock n’ roll. With lyrics such as, “Jonathon Fisk/ Speaks with his fist,” it is also the most lyrically aggressive song on the album and the music accents this sentiment perfectly. “Someone Something” and “All the Pretty Girls Go to the City” also vie for the title of my favourite track, each being very catchy piano driven pop songs. These songs all showcase Spoon’s perspicacious ability to right memorable, accessible pop songs. However the most interesting part of Spoon is how they can keep this sense of accessibility as they move into more experimental territory.
The most notable experimentation on the album is “Paper Tiger.” Sandwiched in the middle of the album, this sparsely arranged piece is odd, but infectious at the same time. The vocal melodies are memorable as they guide the song over the programmed drum flitters, the knocking drumsticks keeping time, and the somewhat distant sounding keyboard. Album opener “Small Takes” also takes this sparse arrangement approach with it’s repeating keyboard lines, met only with a tambourine and finally, a ‘falling rocks’ drum part that closes out the song. These songs are just different enough in their execution and tone to perk interest in the listener, but not nearly experimental enough to be distracting.
Fans of Spoon’s most recently release, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, will probably draw parallels between both respective albums closer’s. “Vittorio E.” is similar in style and presentation to “Black Like Me.” Both being ballad-like, and both starting with acoustic guitars (though in truth the latter is also joined by shakers) and are then joined by the piano, and eventually by the rest of the band by the end. Both are excellent songs, and “Vittorio E.” closes out Kill the Moonlight in beautiful fashion. The only thing the listener wishes, is that the whole experience lasted just a little bit longer, and that is a good thing.
Kill the Moonlight certainly isn’t the most groundbreaking record, but then again one has to ask themselves “so what?” Spoon know what they are about, and work towards honing their sound, while throwing in some splashes of experimentalism for good measure. These splashes are more refreshing then distracting, and what Spoon do, they do well. It’s hard to find a more consistently catchy album then this one. Kill the Moonlight is one of Spoon’s best, which is very much a compliment. This is a highly recommended record to anyone, I have never come across someone who doesn’t like Spoon, and it doesn’t matter what kind of music they’re in to.