Spoon’s newest album, They Want My Soul, is its first in four and a half years — a long time for a band that used to release an album every year. There is some merit in wondering whether the band could slip back into its old groove and return to being the kings of tightly wound indie rock.
That was probably the mentality behind releasing “Rent I Pay” as the first single off the album. A taunt and knotty track, with its just fuzzed enough guitar riffs and thunder claps for drum beats, it is already a Spoon classic in the making. It is the biggest recurrence that Spoon is back, great as ever.
It is also a massive fake out. They Want My Soul is actually the album where Spoon stretches their legs out, less concerned with keeping their songs in a perfectly compacted form, instead experimenting with added atmosphere and letting sounds carry on a little longer if they feel like it.
Synths are smeared everywhere on They Want My Soul — possibly a result of adding Alex Fischel, the synth player from Britt Daniel’s other band, Divine Fits. The instrument’s presence is not engulfing, but it does add a new dimension to Spoon’s sound, which, with the help of space-rock producer David Fridmann, the band is more than happy
Just listen to the second track, “Inside Out.” On this synth-filled track, the band is more atmospheric than ever. The only indication that it’s a Spoon song comes from the always right rhythm section. It could not be more different from “Rent I Pay,” but it serves to better showcase the undercurrent of sound on this album. Or look to the likes of “Outlier,” which is filled with bubbling synths and a groovy beat and could have easily been a Divine Fits song in another time.
Not that Spoon has up and discarded its old sound. “Do You,” with its instantly catchy acoustic guitar riffs, and “Let Me Be Mine,” with its start-and-stop momentum, could have fit on any of Spoon’s other albums.
Spoon did not come roaring back. Instead, they choose to expand their sonic pallet and to dive into new territory where they had only previously dabbled. They Want My Soul might not be Spoon’s greatest work, but it is an immensely enjoyable one, a properly solid record in a line of consistently solid releases.