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Gimme Fiction
Merge Records

Spoon's Gimme Fiction will surely prove to be one 2005's finest albums. It finds resolve in confusion, clarity in imagery, and most of all, finds truth in fiction.

The CD begins with "The Beast and Dragon, Adored". Here, frontman Brit Daniel perfectly embodies the vocal growl of John Lennon, as best heard in classic tracks like "I Am the Walrus" and "Don't Let me Down". Musically, "Beast and Dragon" starts off with only drums and piano-key strikes, creating an eerie feeling of nervous solitude. As the song moves forward, distorted, erratic guitars that echo Jeff Tweedy enter gradually and abruptly with several auxiliary instruments. This dynamic adds suspense and conflict, as the narrator travels on a sort of odyssey from lone motel rooms to open seas, trying to "find the feeling again". Whatever the feeling is, it's one that "don't come cheap," and Daniel's "got to believe it come from rock n' roll." The apocalyptic imagery of "Beast and Dragon's" lyrics gives greater color to its sinister tone and quest-like motif. Woven together, the above elements create a vivid depiction of one man's battle to create a good, confident rock song. In a stroke of brilliance, the depiction and conflict itself becomes that very song. And so begins a magnificent album.

The next track, titled "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," continues in a similar vein. The song focuses on two fantasy lands; one being the narrator's imagination, the other a film called The Stranger Dance (and don't bother browsing for the film at your local rental store, since it doesn't actually exist.) The hero of this film is Monsieur Eddie Valentine. He's a knight who "gets to swordfight the duke" and "kidnaps the queen." And though he's portrayed as heroic, the film does not show Monsieur Valentine's dark side. Only the narrator knows of the knights "blackheart machine," and how he "makes love to the duke" and "swordfights the queen" just before his show-stealing death. Though the track seems a bit absurd in its dependence on utter fabrication, "Monsieur Valentine" powerfully reveals a universal trait of human nature: namely, the tendency of ordinary humans to base their identity in "fictitious heroes," thereby confusing reality and fiction. Basically, it's Fight Club with a melody and medieval twist.

Perhaps the album's most inventive song is "I Turn My Camera On." This track is danceable, even disco. A repetitive bass-line struts the song forward, as a funk-flavored guitar groove follows casually along. Daniel's vocals sound totally different than anywhere else on the album. Unlike the raw, Beatles-esque rasp, "Camera" features Daniels best Prince impression; and a damn good one at that.

"The Delicate Place" is a surprisingly straight forward track. Here, Daniel sings of loss, heartache and the undying need for intimacy. As his lyrics ask, "Have you got the answer/have I yet won the part? Is this just your way/of breaking my heart?" The song still has its share of lyrical obscurity. Yet, it doesn't require as much digging. Still, "The Delicate Place" does strike a nerve musically. The track starts off small, with only drums and guitar strums. It builds after the first chorus, with cymbal rides and a distorted schizoid of convention-breaking guitar solos thickening the sound. The next track, "Sister Jack" translates the lyrical simplicity of "Delicate" into its musical composition, in turn creating the album's only straight-up rock n' roll song. The lyrics, on the other hand, go from concretely understandable to simply confusing. It begins by recalling a time when the narrator is "in the drop D metal band we called Requiem." Regardless of its lyrical confusion, this is an ass-kick catchy song, and would be perfect to play during the end credits of a film.

The danceable funk of "Camera" returns on the track "Infinite Pet," though spacey guitars and synths make for a more atmospheric 80's sound. The sound is fittingly coupled with the bizarre imagery of the lyrics. As Spoon sings, "I sat back/I put my neckshirt on/ resigned myself to the fate of the failed and the conned/Just like the day I met the infinite pet." Such imagery paints an indelible image of a character unsuccessfully battling against failure.

Though the songs mentioned are the standout tracks, Gimme Fiction is a tremendous album from beginning to end. Spoon is a band of talent and intrigue, crafting an album that not only promises widespread popularity, but also one that's sure to be remembered for years to come. Best of all, their ability to brew together the best of The Beatles, Wilco and their own unique sound is not only commendable, but authentically rock n' roll.

-Justin A. Stover

Track Listing:
1. The Beast And Dragon, Adored
2. The Two Side of Monsieur Valentine
3. I Turn My Camera On
4. My Mathematical Mind
5. The Delicate Place
6. Sister Jack
7. I Summon You
8. The Infinite Pet
9. Was it You?
10. They Never Got You
11. Merchants of Soul

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