Spoon's first album aped the Pixies and Pavement, its second borrowed liberally from Gang Of Four and Wire, and its third brought in elements of Elvis Costello and The Rascals. Its fourth disc, Kill The Moonlight, sounds like Spoon. The Austin rock group&–consisting of singer/songwriter/guitarist Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, whatever bass player happens to be hanging around, and randomly deputized pianists and horn players–has synthesized its influences into something like an aesthetic. The process began on last year's mighty Girls Can Tell, on which Spoon pulled apart the rhythms and textures of danceable rock music and left only the snappiest beats and notes. Kill The Moonlight is less immediately accessible, with Daniel and company demonstrating less interest in hooks with surface appeal. The new record has a jarring effect. Even Daniel's habitual lyrical catalog of character sketches, self-analysis, pet peeves, and candid pleas is dual-purpose: It reveals some of his psyche while providing him with syllables that accentuate the composition. In the frenzied "Jonathon Fisk" (a spitting dismissal of a self-righteous pal), both the title name and tossed-off images like "atom bombs and blunt razors" have the virtue of specificity and of sounding great when sung. In "The Way We Get By," Daniel lays his modulated raspy voice over a bare piano/drums/bass/handclaps track, singing about a string of teenage hijinks performed to the music of Iggy Pop. The bouncy, precise music and the half-weary/half-joyous vocal performance establish a feeling of grand times made smaller with hindsight. In that spirit, Daniel diminishes his melodies to fit the demands of arty cadence throughout Kill The Moonlight's first half, which makes the more generously melodic second side not just welcome, but inspiring. The skittish, plaintive "Don't Let It Get You Down" and "All The Pretty Girls Go To The City" marry their wistful titular sentiments to music that provides a gentle tug. But that's about all that's gentle about Kill The Moonlight, which is one album that can't be played as background music.
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