Music Monday: Spoon’s Indie Formula

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Spoon
Transference
Merge Records

It’s easy to see why hipsters love Spoon. Their music is catchy, but not so much that it’s gone mainstream. Their lyrics are clever. Their videos feature dancing robots and drag nuns. And their name just sounds cool.

On Spoon’s latest album, which comes out this week, the band delivers what is expected, with a collection of songs that’s both tuneful and just irreverent enough. The opening track, “Before Destruction,” sets the tone with a segue from what sounds like a scratchy demo into a slick synthetic rush. On “Goodnight Laura,” the music is sweet but the lyrics melancholy: And you close your eyes and slow yourself and let the worry leave you  / Don’t you know love, you’re all right.

At the same time, Spoon often employs its accessible-yet-edgy style in a predictable way—I often found it hard to distinguish between songs, and between this collection and the band’s past hits. With few exceptions, the formula is roughly this: uptempo beat + jaunty guitar hooks + bluesy keys + fun, quirky melodies. Not a bad combination, but it can feel a little staid.

Where they do flirt with experimentation, like with the spacey instrumentals in “Who Makes Your Money,” it’s refreshing. Maybe the old adage If it ain’t broke… is working for them, but after more than 15 years wooing the indie masses with a winning formula, it may be time for Spoon to mess with it a bit.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.