While pretty-boy front man Britt Daniel garners most of the attention, the MVP throughout Spoon’s 20-year, eight-album career always has been drummer Jim Eno, and not only because he has one of the coolest names in rock. The group long has been about stark, minimal, but consistently irresistible grooves, and those rhythms never have been more insistent or captivating than on the band’s first album after a four-year hiatus, which Eno spent producing other bands, while Daniel moonlighted in Divine Fits with Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade.
To be sure, Daniel has plenty of support here in delivering his laconic, charmingly alienated vocals and slyly insinuating melodies: former Get Up Kid Rob Pope is the best partner Eno has had in this band’s rhythm section; Alex Fischel proves himself a great addition on atmospheric keyboards and guitar, and Flaming Lips super-producer Dave Fridmann adds plenty of his trademark psychedelic touches and sonic punch (he’s the first producer to really put his stamp on this band), without ever over-powering the basic Spoonishness of the proceedings.
But it’s Eno who gets your body moving in sync time and again, whether it’s on the herky-jerk undulations of “I Just Don’t Understand,” the mechanical but human pulses of “Rainy Taxi” and the title track, or the retro New Wave dance beats of “New York Kiss.” Spoon isn’t altering the basic sound it perfected on Kill the Moonlight (2002) or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2005), but it’s never sounded better, and it’s reached a point lo these many years on where it’s very consistency is its biggest asset, and in that regard, the band is second perhaps only to Yo La Tengo, which has another decade on it.
Spoon, They Want My Soul (Loma Vista)
Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.