Thursday, November 17, 2005

Spoon's best Sneaks in

Play it: Spoon A Series Of Sneaks
it's like I knew / two of you man / the one before and after we shook hands
- "The Agony of Laffitte" Spoon
After a couple weeks delay, we finally get the final (and I'd argue, most important) piece of the Spoon catalogue, A Series of Sneaks.

Unlike most Spoonheads, for me their second release, A Series of Sneaks, is my favorite. Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight are close seconds, but the pure sonic engagement of Sneaks really speaks to a band hitting their stride and breaking free of the conventions that Pixies-ish Telephono had on it. It also has the back story of being buried by Elektra on release, after A&R man Ron Laffitte abandonded them during the big label merge. Singer/Songwriter Britt Daniel wrote possibly the greatest kiss-off song response to it with the song "The Agony of Laffitte," which, fittingly, makes it on the Merge reissue... acting as a sort of prologue for the album.

Sneaks starts where Telephono left off (w/ the Pixies) but ups it more w/ some Wire and Gang of Four assault, coupled with Robert Pollard (Guided by Voices, with whome Spoon toured prior to writing these songs) gift for the melodic and lyrical vocabulary. "Car Radio" is their first straight-ahead pop, a minute and half of pure excitement, complete with a chorus of "Mah-mah-mah-mah-mah" and a shaker-laden bridge. The production was a little weird for some, as it was very geared for headphone listening - guitars split R-L almost entirely - but I loved it as you could hear everything, right down do differentiating tones on different handclaps ("The Guest List/The Execution".) Other highlights include "The Minor Tough," which laid out much of the angular Costello-ish pop that would come in later releases, and "Metal School" looks closely at what the post-punk era hath brought.

The wonderful "Quincy Punk Episode" references a cult classic episode from the tv show Quincy, which is one of the most ridiculous moments on television ever. The Reefer Madness of punk rock. Feel free to watch clips from it... it's pretty funny. Courtney Love appears in the episode, and for awhile I made myself believe Spoon's song was a specific dig on her, but I changed my opinion after seeing the lyrics mirrored the episode dialogue.

I will now get off my Spoon soap box. As you were.

Every Spoon but the big shiny one

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Spoon A Series of Sneaks

1 Utilitarian
2 Minor Tough
3 Guestlist/The Execution
4 Reservations
5 30 Gallon Tank
6 Car Radio
7 Metal Detektor
8 June's Foreign Spell
9 Chloroform
10 Metal School
11 Staring at the Board
12 No You're Not
13 Quincy Punk Episode
14 Advance Cassette
15 Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now
16 Agony of Laffitte