While its slacker neighbors in Austin were busy making Gordian prog-punk or bluegrass covers of Snoop Dogg tracks, Spoon obsessed with the Pixies, overachieved, and got a major indie (and then a major) deal out of it. As it got dropped from Elektra and dropped the "The Agony of Laffitte" single in response, so too did Spoon begin to shed those unwanted pounds. The first thing to go was frontman Britt Daniel's Black Francis fat suit, resulting in Spoon's svelte and wiry (the band even covered British art punks Wire) new look.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the group's sixth album, boasts an instrument roll call that might look swollen — trumpet, Chamberlin, cello, koto, flamenco guitar — but Spoon wears it well. And some things never change, from Daniel's diction to the simple yet suggestive drum tattoos of Jim Eno. Opener "Don't Make Me a Target" breaches the limit of the band's plodding midtempo velocity; at the brink, the guitar fizzes out, and the group stumbles to the finish.

Throughout the disc, Spoon's longstanding Anglophilia dovetails with its rhythm and soul obsession (see the Van Morrison-worthy "The Underdog" and "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb"). Only now Spoon lets in a dub bass line on "Eddie's Ragga" and a Mikey Dread sample on "Finer Feelings." Sounding like a mashup of a Steve Reich work tape and a Bob Pollard demo, "The Ghost of You Lingers" cements Spoon's curious new embrace of fallibility, letting in vocal bleed-throughs, drop-outs, crackles, and ghostly echoes. Allowing for such fuckups, Spoon paradoxically forges a leaner and stronger alloy on Ga.


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