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On 'Ga Ga,' Simplicity Does Not Equal Austerity

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On 'Ga Ga,' Simplicity Does Not Equal Austerity

On 'Ga Ga,' Simplicity Does Not Equal Austerity

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Spoon is a musical group from Austin, Texas, that's been making records for a small but growing audience of indie-rock fans for 10 years. Their newest CD debuted last month in the Billboard Top 10 - a rather remarkable first for the band.

Our critic, Will Hermes, has this review.

(Soundbite of song "Don't Buy The Realistic")

WILL HERMES: When Spoon debuted in 1996, Kurt Cobain was dead and grunge was on the wane. Spoon sounded a bit like Nirvana and a bit like the Pixies, a band Nirvana sometimes sounded like.

(Soundbite of song "Don't Buy The Realistic")

Mr. BRITT DANIEL (Vocalist, Spoon): (Singing) Come on and take my hand. Come on and...

HERMES: The sound wasn't new, but Spoon were good. They got a major label deal and pretty quickly things turned sour, as they often do when interesting rock bands sign to major labels.

So Spoon returned to the little world of indie-rock and rethought their approach. And a funny thing happened - not only did their music get even more interesting and more tuneful, but they also started selling more records than they did when they were part of a giant conglomerate.

(Soundbite of song "The Way We Get By")

Mr. DANIEL: (Singing) We get high in backseats of cars. We break into mobile homes. We go to sleep to shake up. And we wake up on our own. That's the way we get by, the way we get by. Oh, that's the way we get by, the way we get by

HERMES: That song is from Spoon's 2002 CD Kill the Moonlight, and it demonstrates their revised strategy - pairing rock songs down to the barest elements.

And on their latest CD, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - which is a great title for a minimalist rock album, by the way - they mostly stick to that approach, like this song about a cigarette case.

(Soundbite of song "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case")

Mr. DANIEL: (Singing) It's just my Japanese cigarette case. Bring a mirror to my face. Let all my mem'ries be gone.

HERMES: And this one, which strikes me as a very succinct comment on the current administration's Middle East policies.

(Soundbite of song "Don't Make Me a Target")

Mr. DANIEL: (Singing) Don't make me a target. Don't make me a target. No, don't make me a target.

HERMES: But Spoon are also, with stealth, sneaking some bigger arrangements into the mix.

(Soundbite of song "The Underdog")

Mr. DANIEL: (Singing) The thing that I tell you now. It may not go over well. Oh, and it may not be photo-op in a way that I spell it out. But you won't hear from the messenger. Don't wanna know 'bout the thing that you don't understand, You got no fear of the underdog that's why you will not survive. Right.

HERMES: Hey, I'm no purist. I think it's great to hear horns on a Spoon album. And I'm convinced Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - I just love saying that - is the group's best CD yet. Singer Britt Daniel understands that simplicity is not the same thing as austerity. The great songwriters at Motown understood that, and that's why artists still copy them. And Britt Daniel does, too, because heck, why reinvent the wheel? Make it round, paint it with your own special colors and let it roll.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: The new album from Spoon is called Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - and I love saying it, too. Our reviewer is Will Hermes.

You can hear songs from the new Spoon CD at our website,

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