Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
It may go without saying that if your band names an album something along the lines of an infant's first word skipping on a record player, you've got some chutzpah. Regardless of its success or quality, it will be known as "that one 'ga' album that just didn't know when to stop." Maybe Britt Daniel and the gang from Spoon decided that they couldn't do better than the names Gimme Fiction and Kill the Moonlight. Maybe they just wanted to see what people would think of it...you know, for poops and giggles. Maybe the real story behind Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga does not matter in the slightest because no matter the meaning, Spoon have made a damn solid summer album.
The familiar Spoon vibe is felt from the first few seconds of Ga x 5. Head Spoon (soup?) Daniel brings back the faithful Spoonies and initiates others immediately as "Don't Make Me a Target" sashays its way from the surprisingly hip jukebox of everyone's favorite hole-in-the-wall pub, DIY blues guitar and breezy literate lines included, to the speakers of each listener as an deft attention getter. Spoon's calling card has long been their penchant for simple yet insidious hooks in extremely accessible structures and their opening jab is their modus operandi in under four minutes. "Don't You Evah" and "My Japanese Cigarette Case" are two more tight delicacies of indie pop eloquence and execution, whether driven by sneaky bass lines, disembodied tambourines and hand claps, or gentle tsunamis of acoustic guitar chords. Possibly their finest example of pop craftsmanship to this day is "The Underdog," a spot-on produced track featuring horns, grin-forcing licks, and a quick-hitting story about watching your back and taking the X factor seriously. If The OC were still on the air, they could only be so lucky to have some of these tunes at their disposal to boost their cred.
On other crevices of this album, Spoon tackle introspection in ways both familiar and experimental, coupling their straightforward attacks with bouts of some good ol' spectrum broadening. "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb," on first listen, may appear like your everyday Spoon track and in many ways, this is true; however, listen to it in its entirety and the saxophone blasts are placed like red pegs into plastic battleships crafted completely from an endearing pop tune about nipping something in the bud. And then, there's "The Ghost of You Lingers," the obvious choice for the title of "How does this even work as a pop song?" Two piano notes are chosen - guess which ones - and bludgeoned lovingly as Daniel's vocals dissolve into ether just as soon as they enter the microphone and parallel words escape, changing the pounded piano incantations ever so slightly in key. It may not sink in as remotely catchy the first few times around (or ever, for that matter) but if/when it does, it is fully realized how much its essence can actually linger. How cute.
Of course, last paragraphs of album assessments can often contain shortcomings. Sad, but true. "Finer Feelings" plays a bit like a Cake b-side on a slight bender and does not really make a lasting impression and, as complaints can be with other Spoon albums, it could have been a song or two longer, but those downsides are negligible in the long run. The case could be made that they occasionally recycle their same formulas for certain tunes as well. That may be true but if it ain't broke, just let the kids do their thing. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga go go go go goes down easy. In a season full of Good Girl[s] Gone Bad and rappers stealing slogans from popular energy drinks, leave it to a bunch of unassuming Texans to offer us one of the best listens of the summer.
Release date: July 10, 2007
Rating: 8.9 / 10
On the web: http://www.spoontheband.com
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