Over the years, these Austinites have gone from local darlings to nationally successful rock stars. They’ve given us gems of albums like Gimme Fiction, and 2007’s brilliant Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which still holds its charm seven years later. Though when frontman Britt Daniel appeared in a new form with his side project, Divine Fits, I thought perhaps Spoon was done for, or at least on the backburner. They Want My Soul proves this theory to be utterly incorrect, and has this band back and at the top of their game.
Though on Transference we heard Spoon step away from the openly bombastic pop rock that they had previously ruled, here we get a return to this style, but with a new twist of sleek and extra-cool, and the singles that the band has already promoted with music videos are only the tip of the iceberg. “Do You,” has the obvious chorus repetition but is complimented by all the subtleties and nuances to offset this—like the fast word slinging, the little “do”s, and synth presence to end it gracefully. “Inside Out,” which Daniel calls “the most beautiful thing [they’ve] done,” is dominated by electronic elements; synth riffs and patterns that scatter and explode in different directions while the vocals are soft and half-falsetto for a large portion of the song. It’s a simple yet elegant number that feels mature and streamlined.
For me, while I’m digging all the songs on this record, the tracks build on each other and get more interesting as the album progresses, as a great album should. The last two songs, “Let Me Be Mine” and “New York Kiss,” give the album an ending sleek and smooth ending and makes you want to instantly start again from the beginning. “Let Me Be Mine” has Daniel giving you some advice about love, some acoustic guitar, handclap-esque rhythm and campy piano from the start, before it jumps into its full scale with electric guitar. It has this driving rhythm that propels the whole tune, but the guitars all scream the blues, as Daniel’s raspy drawl screams along too. Frankly, it’s an addicting tune and when I first heard it, I immediately had to listen several times before moving on to the next.
The album comes to a close with “New York Kiss,” ending on a nostalgic yet fast pace, which is the general emotion that worms its way in and out of the whole record via several elements and layers. Each song fits into the next, and on the whole complimenting each other. They Want My Soul feels like a natural and right step for this band, one that I’ve had a blast listening to. They combine the outright gritty alternative rock and roll of their past with a newfound texture of polish and gloss. Have a listen—these old dogs aren’t done learning new tricks.