Music Reviews
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

(Merge Records) Rating - 7/10

Maybe I'm getting jaded. I like a good dose of power pop now and again but the more and more it gets recycled, the more it gets watered down. Perfected by the Beatles, Kinks and others in the 60s, it was revived with varied success by Big Star and Cheap Trick in the 70s, REM and the Replacements in the 80s, Weezer in the 90s and now Spoon in the aughts. The best of it always combined a relentless energy with an ineluctable melodicism, making the final product irresistible to anyone but the most hardcore goth. Despite the occasional flashes of brilliance from Weezer and some others, this process has been one of dilution, for the most part. Big Star was the last to be ignorant of their lack of pretension. By the time the 80s rolled around, punk had happened and energetic simplicity became a statement, losing a good deal of its charm.

Spoon attempts to carry on like none of this ever happened, since like most people they don't think it did. Throughout their new album they try to keep things lively and tuneful and they sort of succeed, but I'm going to ask you all a tough question. Listen to song after song on this album very carefully and tell me, does the energy level sound at all forced to you? This occurred to me on the nth playing of You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb. It's a catchy, fairly derivative song, and the band absolutely must know that this kind of thing has been done a million times before, often quite better, and consequently, how do they manage to get it up to run through the same hoops? Because that's what you do. Here's the song boys, we all know how it goes, 1, 2, 3, 4, BAM, BAM, BAM! Cherry Bomb is one the better songs and treads on the right side of the fine line between inevitability and redundancy. Don't Make Me A Target has an intriguing insistency and a nice guitar solo at the end. And My Little Japanese Cigarette Case is strange enough to warrant attention. The rest of it sounds fairly ordinary to me. Oh yeah, the closer Black Like Me is nice. Not much really sticks to the ribs like great power pop is supposed to. The vocals have the right leathery Lennon quality and the recording is as clean as a whistle, but these strengths only serve to highlight the weaknesses.

So basically what we have here is a modicum of entertainment in a gleaming package. Good enough for distracted listening but it's certainly not going to be the soundtrack of my summer.