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8/10. "Mathematical Mind",
This review is from: Gimme Fiction (Audio CD)
Spoon are a singular American band at once willfully experimental and tightly committed to pop and rock traditions. Their sound is bluesy and angular, but has little in common with the current renaissance of post-punk and new wave. It could be more closely identified with The Beatles, of which there are some echoes, but ultimately they are not building a career on homage or imitation. Rock's arch formalists, they structure superficially simplistic pop hooks around tightly economic, pared-down musicianship. The layering of sound in the production is subtle, all space and exacting textures, over persistant but restrained rythmns. Tightly-coiled, the songs' melodic thrust belies the spring-loaded tensions built into the music and words. There are no cathartic crescendos and guitar solos on this album, but rather simmering and unresolved tensions. Piano, bass and guitar and organic studio embellishments pulse and whirl around slightly hypnotic rythmns.
Brit Daniel sings about emotional distance in his gritty drawl, and its a distance that is made tangible in the calculated sonics. 'I Turn My Camera On...' he sings in a Prince-style falsetto on the song of the same name '... I Turn my feelings off, y'made me untouchable for life'. Unlikely themes for a song with such an infectious, funky groove and irresistable melodic hook. 'My Mathematical Mind' explores similar terrain: 'I wanna change your mind / said I wanna get it right this time .... I wanna change your ways / said i'm gonna do it right this time'. The sinister lyrics about emotional control complement a rugged but concise blues backdrop. Other highlights include the deceptively sweet ballad 'I Summon You', with its cryptic lyrics and precise acoustic chords, and the menacing opener 'The Beast and Dragon, Adored'. The mood can be a little repetitive, and the album lags towards the end, but overall it is another fantastic achievement by a highly underrated band.