“Let all my memories be gone.”
2007. Merge Records.
I’ve never been very good at keeping up with new album releases, even for bands that I really like, so any music reviews on here aren’t going to be very current. Deal with it. So, for my first music review, I chose an album that I’ve had for a while (it was released last July), listened to a couple of times, but always meant to give a more in-depth listen — Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.
The Austin-based outfit led by singer Britt Daniel and his distinctive, powerful voice, has been an indie darling for a decade, with moderate success and placement in commercials and soundtracks. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, their sixth full-length release has been their most successful to date, debuting at #10 on the Billboard charts and leading to a gig on Saturday Night Live.
The album opens slowly, with a typical, repetitive Spoon song, “Don’t Make me a Target”, a decent track but missing the usual energy of those of Spoon’s songs that rely on repetition. “The Ghost of You Lingers” is a decidedly non-Spoon sounding song, muffling Daniel’s voice behind piano and an attempt at a ghostly backing vocal — this is the weakest song on the album. It’s nice to see a departure from their usual style, but it doesn’t work at all here. This is followed by the catchy, poppy single “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “Don’t You Evah”, which is being made into an 8-track EP in April, and I’m not sure why, because it’s nothing special.
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga picks up and finishes strong, with the solid “Rhthm and Soul” and “Eddie’s Ragga” leading the standout hit single “The Underdog”, which is easily the strongest track on the album. This song, which may have cracked my top 5 of 2007, upgrades the album from mediocre to slightly above average. The album finishes with the ode to cocaine, “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case”, “Finer Feelings”, which derails halfway through, and the slower, soulful “Black Like Me”, the second best song on the album.
A bonus disc, Get Nice, was included with a limited edition of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, containing mostly instrumentals and forgettable B-Sides. There is an alternate version of “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” that I actually prefer to the original, as well as a short alternate version of “I Summon You” off 2005’s Gimme Fiction.
While overall a decent album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga seems like it’s missing a lot of the better elements of Gimme Fiction (one of my favorite albums) — there’s nothing that compares to the energy of “Sister Jack”, the style of “I Turn My Camera On” the power of “My Mathematical Mind” or even the catchiness of “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valenti”. “Underdog” is the only song from this album that stands up to the stronger ones on Gimme Fiction and while not every album can be a classic, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is not one of Spoon’s finer offerings.