This record starts with "Don't Make Me A Target", a song that builds on Spoon's familiar minimal rhythmic piano/guitar vamp popularized on earlier hits like "Small Stakes" or "The Way We Get By". The album quickly moves into uncharted territory with the atmospheric "The Ghost Of You Lingers" and moves through several different stylistic changes from the explosive "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" to the wall-of-sound horns of radio single "The Underdog". Their most heartfelt batch of songs since 2001's "Girls Can Tell".
Something happened to Spoon between records five and six--they got big. It's not as if these unprepossessing Texans were unpopular before, but after Gimme Fiction
, their music was everywhere. There was Britt Daniel, who has since moved to Oregon, singing karaoke on cult favorite Veronica Mars
, there was his soundtrack for deadpan Will Ferrell vehicle Stranger Than Fiction
, and then there were the countless times their tunes, especially 2002's "The Way We Get By," appeared in other movies and TV shows. The irony is that they hadn't signed to a major label (they tried that in the 1990s; it didn't take). Nor had they given their sound a major overhaul. Maybe it was a change of publicist, or maybe the times had simply caught up with these "faux punks/gentlemen dudes." In any case, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
is the mark of men confident enough to give their album one of the world's goofiest titles (at least it's an improvement over Queen's "Radio Ga Ga"). If Gimme Fiction
was a transitional work, record number six moves even further away from the angularity of Wire and other early influences. "The Ghost of You Lingers," for instance, is downright dreamy, while "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" is brass-bedecked power-pop (with chimes!). Open-minded listeners will surely find this Beatlesque song cycle irresistible. Fans of the Spoon's darker, more dramatic material might want to check their expectations at the door. They'll be glad they did. --Kathleen C. Fennessy