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This review is from: A Series Of Sneaks (Audio CD)
Imagine the love child of Pavement and the Pixies, finding their own musical path through the world of indie rock. That's the general feel that Spoon gives off in "A Series of Sneaks," the band's major label debut. It's jagged and darkly fun, carefully crafted while seeming effortless.
It opens with the jagged guitar spikes and shivery grooves of "Utilitarian," a rocker than grabs you by the hair and pulls you in. It sets the tone for much of the album, where many songs are a blend of angry and beautiful, such as the ominous "The Minor Tough," which sounds like a song from a Raymond Chandler musical.
"A Series of Sneaks" had a rollercoaster history -- the 1998 release was practically lost after Elektra ditched the band, but was reappeared on an indie label, then on Merge. Don't underestimate any band -- or any scorned album -- that comes back despite the odds, as Spoon did. Makes you wonder if Elektra is sorry now.
If "Series of Sneaks" has any flaw at all, it is that the album has a rather jagged feel. Yes, Spoon's music always sounds that way, but the songs feel like brief bursts of raw guitar rock. It's a bit frustrating to wonder if this album could have been even better, but as "Series of Sneaks" progresses, the indie fun takes over and you just sit back and enjoy.
Britt Daniel is obviously an underrated guitar genius, twisting his guitar into short, taut blasts; around him, we get the ever-changing duet of Joshua Zarbo's bass and Jim Eno's tight drums, complementing Daniel's guitar work. They dip into assorted styles -- blues, punk -- and blend them into the stripped-down sound.
Daniel's voice is just as versatile as his guitar -- he can let rip with raw howls, or downplay his voice to a thin waver. And the songwriting is oblique at best, but it really doesn't matter -- at times you can't understand what Daniel is singing about (is "Car Radio" about driving, or touring as a rock band?), but the vibe of it comes through loud and clear.
Spoon lets their raw musical power out in "A Series of Sneaks." This underrated rough gem is short, clocking in at only over half an hour, but it's an half-hour to treasure.