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An intimate look at Spoon's
nearly-lost indie classic

Spoon
A Series of Sneaks (Merge)

By RACHEL HODGES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor

Have you ever loved an album so much that you
became speechless the moment someone asked you
about it? For me, I lose verbal skills the moment I start
talking about
A Series of Sneaks, the only album I’ve
ever ventured to call perfect. Every single song on this
masterpiece feels like – forgive the metaphor – riding
in bumper cars; bouncing among flying sparks and
spinning grins. By the time the music cuts out, barely
40 minutes after it begins, your head reels with that
same adrenaline rush of those carnival days. This is
the type of album that can be the soundtrack for a lifetime.

Seeing Spoon live is like watching the essence of rock and roll – the way it was meant to be. Britt Daniel literally
glows on stage, and forgive me if I deify him, but he is everything a front man should be. It might be the way the
stage lights catch his blonde locks, or the way the flaming red guitar hangs against his shirt, but whenever I see
Spoon, my attention is fastened on Daniel for every moment of the night. And I swear it’s not a sexual thing … he’
s simply the best performer I’ve ever had the good fortune to notice.

This particular album is so incredible because the band’s live charisma comes screaming through the stereo.
Despite being a studio production,
A Series of Sneaks manages to sound organic and legitimate. The final track
on the album, “The Agony of Laffitte,” literally sounds as though the band held a tape recorder while they played
around with some basic harmonies. But then, that’s the charm of it – the scaled down, naked sound of every
song makes the entire work feel intimate. Listening to this record is like watching the most beautiful girl you
know before she puts on her make-up, and realizing that she’s more perfect before she starts hiding behind
false glamour.

Spoon first released material with their debut EP,
Nefarious, on Fluffer in 1994, and four years later, they landed
a major label contract. Spoon signed with Elektra to produce
A Series of Sneaks, only to be dropped almost
immediately after the album hit shelves. Elektra essentially disavowed the record, and it was another four years
before Merge re-released it in 2002 and actually brought it to mainstream attention.

The other full-length major label releases put out by Spoon,
Girls Can Tell and Kill The Moonlight, are also
fantastic and among my favorites – but none of them have the same air-gun effect of this record.  Every serrated
song is a play between Daniel’s taut, wavering vocals and staccato bursts of instrumental genius. The drums
and bass of Jim Eno and Josh Zarbo, respectively, are in constant flux. Those two musicians are a constant
reminder that the rhythm section of a band doesn’t have to be pure backbone, but can add to the lyrical
musculature of a band’s sound. None of the songs on this piece sound similar, and this is in no small part due
to such instrumental variation. The juxtaposition of the scratchy rhythm of “June’s Foreign Spell,” with the eerie
rumblings of “Chloroform,” truly highlights this versatility.

It’s true that I have trouble talking about this album, simply because it’s impossible to discuss something that so
closely approaches your musical ideal. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the album I would take with
me. If I could listen to one record for the rest of my life, this would be it. So if you don’t already own this album, go
to the record store and buy it immediately. If Elektra had buried this album, it would have been one of the
greatest sins in musical history. Don’t perpetuate their misdeeds, and help repay Merge for saving an artistic
masterpiece.