I first heard of the band of Austin, Texas indie rockers called Spoon when they performed on the famed PBS show "Austin City Limits" with Ben Kweller. When "Kill the Moonlight" was listed as one of Rolling Stone magazine's Top 50 Records of the Year, I decided to pick it up.
At first I thought that the singer, Britt Daniel, was doing his best Elvis Costello impression. But strangely, each time I listen to this CD, the resemblance to that new-wave troubadour grows smaller and smaller.
Another thing that struck me at first was how much SPACE there was on this album. The opening track, the superbly catchy "Small Stakes", only has organ and tambourine to accompany the vocals. But any [person] can make space, right? Ah, yes, that is true. It's how you USE THAT SPACE that makes great music. And Spoon does just that. On most songs there is just a sparse piano melody line, with drums and bass, to underscore Britt daniel's pleading and similarly simplistic lyrics.
I have made the comparison to Elvis Costello, and indeed, this band conjure up the spirits of punk/new-wave greats on a few songs. "Jonathon Fisk" reminds me of The Clash and "The Way We Get By" sounds like a New York Dolls demo. But these blokes are not just copying what others did in '77. Just listen to the fabulous "Paper Tiger" and tell me if Sid Vicious could ever be that compassionate or musically mature.
Although the album is barely 35 minutes long, it never seems like it is a short throwaway because the songs are of such high quality. From the human beatbox-based "Stay Don't Go" to the organic and slightly pschyadelic closer "Vittorio E.", "Kill the Moonlight" is one of the best and finest albums to have been released in 2002.