Albums of the Aughts: Spoon’s Kill the Moonlight

Thinking about a “best” album by Spoon, a band that has made four of the most consistent and listenable indie/pop records of the last ten years, is nearly as difficult as thinking about the top ten “best” albums of the decade. However, at least to me, there is a clear moment in the band’s career when they, for lack of a better expression, really came into their own; when comments like “I’d rather listen to the Pixies or Wire” were no longer valid when discussing their music, because they now sounded like nobody else; and when it was clear that they were a confident, risk-taking group that was going to be around for awhile. This moment was the release of Kill the Moonlight.
The 2002 release is an almost textbook pop album (if there is such a thing). There is the anthemic “That’s The Way We Get By,” with its relatable lyrics and arguably most ubiquitous piano line of the decade, coming in big and early on the record. There is more strange and explorative moments with the somber lyrics and delayed snare and echoing kick-drum rhythm of “Paper Tiger” near the middle. And finally, we have a series of equally catchy and experimental pop songs, complete with hand claps, horns and Britt Daniel’s trademark “awright” and “aw yeah,” leading up to the enchanting “Vittorio E.,” an acoustic song with church-choir backing vocals about when relationships end, or if they ever end — so perfect for an album closer that you’re not even mad at them for being predictable.
Besides its pop sensibility and form, what makes KtM really charming is that you can tell the band is really trying to push the envelope, but having a lot of fun in the process. Samples like the beat-boxing on “Stay Don’t Go” or the maniacal laughing on “Back To The Life,” seem like mistakes or goofs that, although never meant to be included in the end product, got left on because they just sounded fun. In this way, Brit Daniel and company take you inside their recording process a bit, showing a great deal of openness towards their music. They can change the way you think about indie and pop music, but also don’t seem to take themselves too seriously…and you love them even more for that.

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