It’s tempting to call Spoon’s latest, Lucifer on the Sofa (Matador Records), a return to form, but aside from a couple of mediocre albums midway through their career (namely 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and 2010’s Transference), the band has been consistently releasing solid records for nearly 30 years.
That said, Lucifer does feel like a return to the lean sound of breakout albums like Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight. This may be largely due to the production work of Mark Rankin. He’s rendered Britt Daniel’s voice bone dry and placed it upfront with his Telecaster, so even though the record has plenty of other sounds in the mix, it doesn’t feel particularly ornate. Indeed, on “The Devil & Mister Jones,” a highlight, Daniel is flanked by horns, but the song still comes off lean and mean. The same sort of sleight of hand is used on the subsequent, “Wild,” where the bevy of synths doesn’t wet the cut’s dry cadence.
This Albini-esque aesthetic is upheld throughout the album, giving it a briny punch that’s only offset by the sweetness of softer moments like “My Babe” and “Astral Jacket.” As such, every utterance on Lucifer seems purposeful, and with the album clocking in at just 10 tracks and 39 minutes despite the band spending several years making it and many more songs reportedly written, it’s obvious this record was edited to its essentials. The end result is exactly that: an album that is essentially Spoon and just outright indispensable.