There’s something very calculated in a Spoon record, every beat seems deliberated over. I’ve come to rely on the recognisable vocals of Britt Daniel, the clean yet jarred way he plays his guitar, the steady drumming of Jim Eno. Just listen to the way ‘Rent I Pay’ starts They Want My Soul: high hats and snare hit, shortly joined by a guitar on a chord progression, then backed-up by a second guitar adding emphasis to the rhythm of the song, crescendoing with tomtoms, then introducing Britt Daniel’s voice that we’ve been hearing since 2000 with a few cymbal crashes. It’s scarily precise, a machine so well oiled that you wonder if there’s anything creative about it.
There’s the characteristic drawl that Britt Daniel sometimes sings with (swallowing syllables to fit the context of the rhythm), the solid song-writing (I love the line, “Someone get popsicles/someone’s gotta do something bout this heat”), jumpy basslines and rolling keys. It can be raucous, it can be toned down.’Rent I Pay’ is followed by some beautiful keyboards in ‘Inside Out’ that flow like a gymnast’s ribbon. Jonathan Fisk, a character from the 2002 album Kill The Moonlight makes an appearance in the eponymous song, as one of a bunch of people who wants Daniel’s soul.
One of the gripes, if there were any, was that Spoon sounded the same, that they didn’t show any progress. I argue that if you’re good, you don’t really have to change anything, especially if artistically you don’t feel compelled to do so. What They Want My Soul offers however, is a Spoon that’s much more polished technically. There are more interesting sounds than on Transference: celeste, strings, drowned out vocals, static noise. Yet, it’s not experimentation for the sake of it, because it’s all very well placed. No song feels overwhelming, each retaining a pop lightness that Spoon always had.
I remember being a young visitor to Spoon’s MySpace a decade ago. Out of curiousity, I looked it up again and found myself surprised that they still ran a page. Yet, instead of the clunky page with bad wallpapers obscured by text frames, I was surprised by a slick interface. Their MySpace page is updated with They Want My Soul’s release details and everything looks slickened up. The content hasn’t changed, but they definitely present it better. Just like the band.