The Deal: Texas' indie vets return with mixed bag.
The Good: "Don't Make Me a Target" should go down as the Bush era anthem. It's a furious, spiky rocker that just gets more pissed-off as it thunders forward to its beyond-politics, no-shit-Sherlock bottom line: Thanks to the "nuclear dicks with their dialect drawls," singer Britt Daniels spits, we've got even bigger bulls-eyes on our collective backs. Elsewhere, "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" successfully adds Phil Spector production and Stax horns to the soul vibe Spoon introduced on Gimme Fiction, while the Eastern-accented "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" recalls the delicious creepiness of "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" from that record. Reverence for three iconic touchstones are smoothly incorporated via the (late era) Jam soul of "Finer Feelings," the Stones/Let It Bleed nod, "Black Like Me," and the "Know Your Rights" Joe Strummer riff at the center of "Eddie's Ragga."
The Bad: This record's got some gaping holes amidst the great cuts. "The Ghost of You Lingers" is a limp mess of staccato keyboard comps, vocal tricks and rote effects that aren't particularly experimental or interesting; a real momentum-killer. While the Stax horns and Wall of Sound production work elsewhere, "The Underdog" crosses the line from Philly Soul to Billy Joel. "Don't You Evah" suffers from another Spoon failing, a deep-groove riff that just bleeds out in futile search of an equally memorable chorus.
The Verdict: For all the breathless genuflecting, Spoon is at its best when it cuts the crap and rocks. The rest is filler, and nothing to go gaga over.