Spoon’s ‘They Want My Soul’ is full of mesmerizing curves, accents

  • By Randall Roberts Los Angeles Times
  • Wednesday, August 6, 2014 2:28pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

With 10 songs that clock in at just under 40 minutes, Spoon’s eighth studio release, “They Want My Soul,” is a rock record to admire, and not just for the way its melodies and textures wheedle their way into the head.

One of the most acclaimed rock bands of the last decade, Spoon is returning from the longest hiatus of its career, a time that saw leader Britt Daniel teaming with Canadian avant-pop singer Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade to explore dance-punk joy with Divine Fits. Like an architect who understands form and engineering so well that he seems able to bend the laws of physics while using them to the fullest, Daniel designs songs that waste little space and have a grand, undeniable logic, filled with volumes of mesmerizing curves and accents.

Much of the album’s success comes from a tension between experimentation and allegiance to form, dueling reflexes highlighted through its two producers. Early on, the band, which has always produced its own albums, went in the studio with the Grammy-winning Joe Chiccarelli, whose list of collaborators include the White Stripes, Tori Amos, Elton John and U2. But halfway through, Daniel and company split to record with Dave Fridmann, known for his work with Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse and others.

The latter ended up mixing the entire album, and you can hear the Fridmann flag flying all over “They Want My Soul.” It’s in the frantic high-hat, the odd bursts of strings, the ghostly wails and the electrifying guitar lines on “Knock Knock Knock.” “Inside Out” floats in like a dream and hints at Sparklehorse’s “Rainmaker” before going all in on a midtempo, blue-eyed soul song. It features what sounds like a harp solo.

There’s nothing cheap or flimsy about “Soul.” Each song seems constructed from the finest notes, honed to their perfect shapes. Each round of measures in “Rainy Taxi” shines, rotating loops of echoed guitars, an R&B-suggestive bass line, a bouncy-ball glockenspiel and an infectious backbeat. Even the silence packs a punch, the proof being brief moments of stop-start quiet in “Let Me Be Mine.”

Through it all is Daniel, protesting and proclaiming. He’s baffled on “I Just Don’t Understand,” a song made famous by Ann-Margret 50-plus years ago. He’s a man obsessed on “Rainy Taxi,” and so desperate that he’ll forsake his very voice: “If you leave, I’ll never sing another tune,” he sings. For music’s sake, here’s hoping his lover stays.


“They Want My Soul”

3.5 stars (out of four)

More in Life

Co-owner Jason Parzyk carries two growlers to fill as he serves up beer at Lake Stevens Brewing Co. The first brewery in the city is celebrating one-year anniversary this weekend. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Beer of the Week: Lake Stevens Brewing Co.’s Sour Imperial

The beer has a depth and a complex flavor profile that goes beyond just another barrel-aged stout.

Legendary bluesman Curtis Salgado to play Arlington show

The Northwest blues-soul-funk-R&B living legend performs with Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons Nov. 18.

This year’s Snohomish Blues Invasion has an all-star lineup

Proceeds send the CD Woodbury Trio and the Benton-Townsend Duo to the International Blues Challenge.

Schack holiday show features Northwest watercolor artists

The free exhibit also will have three-dimensional works, such as jewelry, glass, ceramic and wood.

‘Three Billboards’ rooted in Frances McDormand’s rigid role

The actress of “Fargo” fame gives an Oscar-worthy performance in this black comedy on human nature.

‘The Hate U Give’ shows the burden of being black in America

Angie Thomas’ story of a teen girl covers the challenging experience of African Americans.

A merry Christmas concert with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

The Christian music stars will perform at Xfinity Arena with Jordan Smith of “The Voice” on Nov. 18.

‘Veep’ production postponed during Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ treatment

The 56-year-old star has been documenting her breast cancer fight on social media.

The Rucker Hill house is featured in the Twin Peaks series in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Living happily ever after in the ‘Twin Peaks’ house

Everett homeowners snagged a role in the recent reboot of the 1990s cult classic show.

Most Read