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On 'Ga Ga,' Simplicity Does Not Equal Austerity

Spoon's new CD, <em>Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga</em>.
Spoon's new CD, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

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.

A bit generic maybe, but Spoon was 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. Later, Spoon returned to the little world of indie-rock and rethought their approach. And a funny thing happened: Not only did their music get more interesting and more tuneful, but they also started selling more records than they did when they were part of a giant conglomerate.

On Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga — a great title for a minimalist rock album, by the way — they mostly stick to paring rock songs down to the barest elemental, like on "Japanese Cigarette Case" and "Don't Make Me a Target," which strikes me as a very succinct comment on the current administration's Middle East policies.

Spoon also stealthily sneaks some bigger arrangements into the mix like on "The Underdog" and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." I think it is great to hear horns on a Spoon album and I am convinced that Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the group's best CD yet. Britt Daniel understands that simplicity is not the same thing as austerity. The great songwriters at Motown understood that, which is why artists like Amy Winehouse still copy them. Daniel does, too, because heck, why reinvent the wheel? Make it round, paint it with your own special colors and let it roll.

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