It’s a strange, strange thing to accomplish a goal. For a couple of hours after, you feel energized and just really thrilled with yourself. And then, the crushing sense of loss of purpose and the knowledge that you have nothing to do, and oh God, what if that feeling never comes back to you again? What if you’re that number 14 on the VH1 One Hit Wonders? Shit, your life is done! At least until you find that new fantastic feel that makes that right fist just shoot all the way up in the air in victory or a great idea that comes out of you like giving birth to something the wrong way up.
Britt Daniels is remarkably calm about his musical talents, and you’ll probably never find him on VH1 talking about the good old times of groupies, car commercial soundtracks and lots of commercial radio play. If you never heard his music, you would assume he would be a regular Joe. Yet, he’s not exactly that regular.
“Sometimes, she wishes her sweetie wasn’t famous,” is what Britt told me about how his girlfriend thought about his fame as a lead singer of cult favorite indie-rock band, Spoon. “I never thought we as a band would get to this point,” he adds.
The way he instinctively stretches something out from inside his ears and his mind to a tangible form of music that he can rearrange as he pleases, throwing distortion after rough tracks over clean drum beats and guitars, makes Daniels a sort of haphazard mastermind.
“Yeah, I don’t know how we do it,” he said, of how he achieves the clean interlocking of drums and guitars while maintaining the rock-and-roll sensibility of their music. “I think there’s a lot more acoustic when there wasn’t before [on 2005’s Gimme Fiction], it’s just fuller. Kill the Moonlight’s appeal was that there was this demo-like quality, and this one just sounds bigger. Not that makes it a better or record, it’s just what we did this time.”
Spoon isn’t ashamed of their music. They’re direct and sometimes in the train of 4/4 guitar rock, but unlike their modern rock contemporaries, there are no holes in this sort of style. “There’s sometimes a big space where a solo is supposed to go, and instead of putting in a guitar solo, we like to put these strange sounds in there,” says Daniels. Spoon patches its music with decay and shadows and cobwebs in between the spaces left by Jim Eno’s slam of drums and the rough strum of guitars. There’s one thing to be said, though, it’s immaculately placed, like someone quietly dropped little grainy sands of their more punk-Pixies roots in the vinyl and ground it until it smoothed out into a satisfying sound.
“It’s about a record. It’s a record about rock-and-roll in 2004, when we recorded it,” says Daniels, straightforward about Gimme Fiction, a unanimous favorite among critics this year. “Recently, I’ve read a few reviews saying that the words didn’t mean anything at all, and I never would have guessed that people would have said that at all. Hey, to me,
‘My Mathematical Mind’ is about war-mongerers.”
Spoon’s frank approach, with hidden layers of sound, is like people in general. We’re all pretty blunt but subtle, open but reserved. This sort of variety gives Spoon the sort of variety and style changes that are distinct when examining their discography, from the catchy lo-fi pop-rock of Series of Sneaks, to the grand, lushly dark and rocking Gimme Fiction. The listener can find no filler; the music has literally spooned against the backbone of their musical tastes. Spoon does what no one-hit wonder can do: make every song mean something to someone. In doing this, we wish them many years of cult status, climbing the ranks of bands like Pavement, Guided by Voices, and the Talking heads, but maintaining an individuality that can’t be found elsewhere.
Spoon will shake Foellinger Auditorium to the ground on Friday with opener and fellow rocker Mary Timony. Tickets are $18 for students, $20 to the public.