Spoon, Prizzy Prizzy Please
The Vogue, 6259 N. College Ave.
Saturday, April 19, 6:30 p.m., SOLD OUT, 21+
While acclaimed, Texas-based indie rockers Spoon have never been regarded as commercial, few bands can claim that they’ve developed an even less conventional sound while continuing to build a fan base. Granted, “The Underdog,” a widely played single off their latest record, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” (2007), has a pleasant anthem and conventional song structure, and on past albums, one finds songs like “Sister Jack” (“Gimme Fiction,” 2005) and “The Way We Get By” (“Kill the Moonlight,” 2002), which possess Beatles-esque buoyancies. But these accessible tunes are the exception to the rule.
Spoon’s approach to songwriting has always been minimalist and atypical; various instruments and parts don’t so much flow together as glance off each other, like a musical relay race. The band has also tended to avoid predictable crescendos and climaxes, preferring to move along at a steady, consistent pulse.
“Ga Ga” has little to offer the listener seeking familiar rock consonance. The band embarks on some interesting experiments on the new album, perhaps the most glaring of which is “The Ghost of You Lingers.” The music matches the title on “Ghost”: Britt Daniel’s tunnel echo vocals and occasional bursts of staticky white noise suggest something supernatural trying to break through to the material plane. Elsewhere, there’re mild shout-outs to old-school influences (“Don’t You Evah” vividly invokes Elvis Costello), but these, again, are items that stimulate the intellect more than set feet to tapping.
Sometimes the greatest windfalls come out of the worst misfortunes. Spoon’s abrupt dismissal from Elektra in 1998 was one such instance; they were let go after their final major-label release, “A Series of Sneaks,” failed to sell like Britney. They’ve been with Merge Records ever since, a relationship that has allowed them to do what they want for the past four albums. While some fans may not always agree about their direction, they tend to smile and show up anyway, treating this band like a wayward but beloved relation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if/when Spoon starts recording the next one.