Doubts about Spoon's vibrancy crept in during their recent Yonge-Dundas Square set at NXNE, which was as solid as we've come to expect from the stately Austin indie rockers but didn't offer much in the way of surprises or excitement. But while their eighth album doesn't take any major left turns, it brims with life, ideas and energy.
The minimalist five-piece brought Dave Fridmann aboard for production duties, he of Flaming Lips albums and Mercury Rev experimental weirdness, and he must be behind the dissonant background textures on the excellent Knock Knock Knock. But they also employed super-pro Joe Chiccarelli, known for his work with the Counting Crows, Jason Mraz, Beck and the Shins. It's a great balance.
Mostly, though, this is pure Spoon. Britt Daniel's voice is soulful, tuneful and rough, helping his heartbreak-focused lyrics hit hard, especially on Do You. Bass and drum grooves propel the robust tunes, and a few of the best they save for last, like the meticulously crafted Let Me Be Mine, with cinematic sonic surprises that continue in closer New York Kiss.
Top track: Let Me Be Mine