Spoon serves synth for the indie soul

Spoon is respected in the alternative rock scene for a reason: the band has been cranking out good old American indie rock since 1993. And after a four-year hiatus, the band released its eighth studio album, They Want My Soul, on Aug. 5.Somehow, this new release feels more simplistic and less intricate than Spoon’s 2010 album Transference. It also lacks the special brand of weirdness for which Spoon is usually celebrated—a quirky quality that even the top single on 2005's Gimme Fiction, “I Turn My Camera On,” managed to maintain. The album opener and first single released off They Want My Soul, “Rent I Pay,” sounds like rebellion: a rasping, righteous teenage anthem. Its hook may be burdened by the burning desire to become an earworm, but at least the song sounds substantial. “Inside Out” comes next, marked by a slower, trippier sound, almost crossing over into (stoner) ballad territory. In terms of genre, the first two tracks lack any commonality beyond being “alternative.” While most of the songs on the album get better with repeat listens, some are too repetitive to warrant a single play-through. “Knock Knock Knock” is one of those songs. One of the repeated lines is, “and it starts all over again,” as if the band wanted to call attention to the fact that it sounds like the same song played twice in a row. Additionally, the excess noise is just that―excessive. “Outlier” is another low point; it's a melodically repetitive, lyrically-lacking song. It has top-quality new wave aspirations, but the endless series of “na-nas” in place of actual words prevents it from reaching truly artistic heights. “Do You,” the second single released off They Want My Soul, is undeniably catchy. While the title track is a little bluesier than the majority of the album, this track differs. Lead singer Britt Daniel rasps in the melodic way fans are used to on this one. The heavy lyrical and melodic repetition feels more natural and less, “Well, we ran out of ideas, so we're just going to do that one thing again and again.” The lively and lyrically poignant “Let Me Be Mine” is the real gem of the bunch. This song is heavily influenced by musical styles spanning at least the last three decades and still manages to sound up-to-the-minute current. It's emotional, genre-bending and unmistakably Spoon. Fans won't find many surprises on this album and that itself might be disappointing. The biggest change is a new preference for airy, synth pop, but these lighter songs are anchored by an equal number of bluesy, guitar-heavy tracks. Overall, They Want My Soul may not feel like a new high for an old band, but it proves that learning a few new tricks can help make an album a solid addition to a veteran band's discography.