Efficiency is a lost art in pop music: At a time when too many bands waste five minutes on tracks that should end in two, Spoon squeezes a complete song into 54 seconds on "Staring At The Board," a wonderfully concise snap of warped pop from the band's giant-label debut album, A Series Of Sneaks. Spoon understands the importance of brevity; all but two of these 14 songs are over before the three-minute mark, and for the most part, that's just fine. Britt Daniel is a rare songwriter who writes pretty pop melodies with an innate feel for odd rhythms; his style is strikingly similar to that of former Pixies frontman Frank Black. The frenzied vocal hiccups and razor-sharp guitar chops embedded in these songs suggest that Daniel wore out the grooves on his copy of Surfer Rosa a long time ago, but he learned a lesson about something that never concerned Black: pacing. Daniel is careful to balance vicious, driving tracks like "June's Foreign Spell" and "Metal School" with the sort of delicate melodies that creep through "Advance Tape" and "Reservations." Of course, Spoon's bag of tricks is a little limited, and anyone who stumbled upon the group's 1996 full-length debut Telephono will find a similar collection here. Still, with songs this short, there's little time to work up any ire against Spoon; when they're spit out with such hooks and vitriol, there's little reason to do so anyway.
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