Spoon released a new album today, They Want My Soul. Like every Spoon album since 1998’s A Series of Sneaks, it’s good. Very good, even, an appealing mix of the nervous-swagger sound they mastered years ago, but with a dash of, well, soul. (It’s also very funny at times — “I remember when you walked out of Garden State/You had taste, you had taste/You had no time to waste” is particularly inspired.) If I had to give it a rating, it would be a “B,” because it’s Spoon, and all Spoon albums are either B’s or B+’s.
OK, maybe Transference is a B-, but otherwise, the Austin band has been remarkably consistent for over a decade. It’s reassuring listening to the run they went on from 2001 to 2007, spanning Girls Can Tell and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, with Kill the Moonlight and Gimme Fiction wedged between — there’s something comfortably familiar about those four albums; they sound instantly lived in, like you’ve been listening to them for years even after the first play. They Want My Soul is the same way. It exists in the same universe as the rest of the band’s discography, but otherwise, they’re alone. The only band that sounds like Spoon is Spoon, and in a day and age when you can easily connect U2 to Arcade Fire, that’s rare.
Speaking of Arcade Fire: they’re a group that swings for the fences every time. Sometime they hit it out of the park (The Suburbs), other times they strike out and trip on the way back to the dugout (Reflektor). Same with the Foo Fighters (Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace sputters out midway through), Radiohead (Kid A and OK Computer are masterpieces on a different level than the sad-bastard The King of Limbs), Green Day (nope), Nine Inch Nails (The Slip can’t compete with The Downward Spiral), and so on. Then there’s Spoon, who keep churning out one quality album after another, never releasing anything that belongs on a 100 Greatest Albums list, but never making a dud, either.
So I ask you, is Spoon the most consistently GOOD rock band today?