There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Spoon allegedly named Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga after the choppy, multitracked piano sound that dominates “The Ghost of You Lingers,” the only weird song of the disc’s 10 tracks. Those five syllables of baby talk could easily be a commentary on the overall content of the album itself: Compared to the Austin, Texas, band’s two previous efforts—2002’s masterfully reductivist Kill the Moonlight and 2005’s sublimely swollen Gimme Fiction—this one isn’t intellectually loaded, either sonically or lyrically. But it’s still quintessentially Spoon, from the finger-popping, white-bread funk of “Don’t You Evah” to the sharp acoustic strumming, handclaps, and horn charts on “The Underdog,” the disc’s Jon Brionnproduced first single. The latter song is one of the few where frontman Britt Daniel has a bone to pick: “But you won’t hear from the messenger/Don’t wanna know about something that you don’t understand/You’ve got no fear of the underdog/That’s why you will not survive.” Similar angst can be found throughout Moonlight and Fiction, but it’s often presented more cryptically. On the new disc, drummer and co-founder Jim Eno is the most consistent force, and his emphasis on in-the-pocket grooves is fitting. After a while, it becomes clear that Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is all about Spoon accepting its role as an indie-rock party band, at least for now. “Don’t You Evah” is as coolly seductive as anything on 2001’s no-frills Girls Can Tell, and “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” is built around a confident four-on-the-floor Motown beat, complete with echoing tambourines. The showstopper, though, is “Finer Feelings.” Bassist Rob Pope lays down a ClashncumnDuran Duran riff that settles somewhere between dub and disco, while Daniel sounds like he’s inclined to hop into the crowd with a wireless microphone. He’s no Simon LeBon, obviously. Even when Spoon blatantly embraces its basest, funkiest instincts—instead of self-consciously chiseling-down its songs as it has for about five years—Daniel is still an instinctively cautious rock star, one who flourishes by dabbling at the edges of emotion. And maybe that’s why Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga feels like a well-calibrated exhale of tension. Except for “The Ghost of You Lingers”—a fractured, drumless cousin of Billy Joel’s “Pressure”—Spoon takes every opportunity to do the fun thing. Relatively speaking, of course.