Ghost Of You Lingers
Although ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’ finds Spoon moving further away from their punk beginnings and broadening their sonic pallet, it is arguably their most accessible record yet. While ‘The Ghost of You Lingers’ registers one of their most experimental album tracks so far, a masterpiece of lo-fi minimalism (further leftfield than ‘Kill the Moonlight‘s peerless ‘Paper Tiger’), tracks like ‘You Got Yr Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Underdog’ are spangled pop bedecked with chimes and trombones. This occasional (bitter) sweetness adds respite to the noirish nocturnal moods carried over from ‘Gimme Fiction‘, prevalent here in some inspired studio touches. The electronic embellishments hover ghost-like over much of the music, sometimes subverting Brit Daniels’ melodic thrust, sometimes underlining it. As on ‘Gimme Fiction‘ these moods are patient but pervasive, rewarding repeated listens.
‘Don’t Make Me A Target’ is as rugged as the album gets, with Britt Daniels repeating the title refrain with his trademark bluesy rasp. Not exactly a mission statement, this is an inconspicuous opener from a band who have produced many songs of this ilk and are (to use a Blairism) better when they’re boldest. ‘Ghost Of You Lingers’ flips the script entirely with three minutes of unfulfilled tensions and eerie ambience. Building on a Philip Glass style piano loop and spectral vocals shifting from speaker to speaker it seems primed, improbably, to turn into something Underworld might write. However, when it suddenly ends, its tensions unresolved, the lingering, haunting mood of its title pervades.
‘You Got Yr Cherry Bomb’ works a brass section and Phil Spector-patented chimes into its achingly bittersweet pop; a trick repeated on ‘Underdog’, an attack on mediocrity. The breezy effortlessness of these tracks belies their taut perfectionism; Spoon’s apparent simplicity is a deception. The melody of ‘Don’t You Ever’ swirls around a dubby bassline and an insistent nightime groove that continues into ‘Rythmn and Soul’, which features some lovely deep-slung guitar.
‘My Little Japanese Cigarette Case’ is a noirish conceit embellished with some oriental guitar that sounds like it could be drifting out of a brothel. Furthermore ‘Finer Feelings’ adds an unlikely reggae flavour to its bittersweet melodies, drifting in dubby expansiveness where other bands put a guitar solo. There is an loose, unhurried feel to these songs which unravel as mood pieces rather than typical verse-chorus-verse song structures.
The limited edition ‘Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’ includes an additional bonus CD of studio outtakes and doodles which aren’t enormously diverting bar an inspired mix of Gimme Fiction‘s brilliant ‘I Summon You’, stripped down to bleak Portishead-style trip hop. It’s a shame it’s only a snippet. Spoon are an album band for whom the term ‘grower’ could easily have been invented. Another beguiling, subtle mini-masterpiece to savour – a lean 38 minutes which belies the expansive moodiness within.