Spoon‘s latest album, They Want my Soul, shows refinement and professionalism. Eerie sounds weave in and out of the clean sonic tapestries that make up the album. The tracks have a striking originality. Yet, something indescribable holds the album back. There’s nothing quite wrong with this album; on the other hand, it doesn’t quite reach a special place.
Spoon has a sound all of their own, leaving critics bemused on how to categorize them. Even their recordings have a certain Spoon tinge that distinguishes them. On They Want my Soul, you’ll hear some strange things percolating in the background. Spoon does an amazing job layering all of this noise and never allows the unusual flourishes to take over the track. Still, they’ve found a sonic territory all of their own.
This pedestaling of originality may begin to unveil how the album misses. Spoon seems to prize uniqueness — perhaps to a fault. Slaves to individuality, Spoon lacks the courage to occasionally deliver a conventional tune. All of the individuating flourishes begin to look like crutches or something for the band to hide behind. The sonic pyrotechnics cannot mask that the band seems afraid to stand their naked.
Yet, the album displays incredible skill. “Do You” really speaks. The track has great melody, catchiness, and lyrics — “do you run when it’s just getting good?” Nearly all of the ten tracks succeed in their task. They all feature complex arrangements, superb productions, admirable variety, and superior craftsmanship. While the album does not reach a special place, that is not at all to say that it fails – the album is great.
It sounds like a lot of effort went into making They Want my Soul. Toil can also be a crutch. Ultimately, this album reminds me of a beautiful love prospect who has everything — good looks, good job, good family — but somehow there’s no magic. Who can ever explain why some things just lack a spark, though everything seems to be there? Still, Spoon does enough here to maintain a legion of faithful fans who can legitimately label Spoon as one of the best bands making music.