Spoon’s Top 10 Songs

Here's a band that knows how to write a sharply crafted pop song


    This feature originally ran in 2014. We’re reposting in anticipation of Spoon’s new album, Hot Thoughts.

    Top Songs is a feature in which we definitively handpick the very best songs in an artist or band’s catalog. Sounds simple, right? Oh, if only. 

    The first thing any Spoon fan recognizes about the band is its remarkable and almost polite sense of consistency. That’s what makes even the relatively short wait between Hot Thoughts and the Austin, Texas, band’s excellent last album, They Want My Soul, sting a bit. Sure, it’s hard to wait on new albums, but it’s harder still to wait on the closest thing indie rock has to a sure thing. That’s also what made it so hard to whittle down the group’s back catalog to 10 essential tracks. Trust us: We spent all weekend bickering over where we got it right and wrong nearly three years ago. The result is a list that saw some personal favorites fall away and some other songs climb aboard. And if our hot take on Hot Thoughts has any staying power, we’ll need to be updating this list all over again in the near future. In brief: This is a band that knows how to write a sharply crafted pop song. This list is the proof. Rock on.

    –Zach Schonfeld
    Contributing Writer



    10. “Do You”

    They Want My Soul (2014)


    There are few vocal hooks in the Spoon catalog as sticky-sweet as Britt Daniel’s repetitions of this song’s title, the smoky edges of his voice softened by falsetto backing. But then his “Do you?” isn’t wondering whether you want to grab some frozen yogurt; though still love-centric, this song’s sighs are far more existential and concerned than you might suspect. In fact, Daniel goes so far as to reference Danish existentialist philosopher Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, who wrote “Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing”; here, Spoon ask whether you even want one thing or if you want sainthood. Later, Daniel’s electric coo about how love comes “black and blue” shows the root of his concerns. There’s pain here, but beauty too — just like life’s struggle for love. –Lior Phillips

     09. “Written in Reverse”

    Transference (2010)


    Britt Daniel has this tendency to treat words the same way kids treat stones. He kicks ’em, he throws ’em, and he often skips ’em. “Written in Reverse” is a brilliant example of this, a four-minute exercise in deconstructed pop that finds the Austin rockers proving that a pile of scrap metal can warrant a shiny sports car. In this case, said scrap metal is a discombobulated rhythm section that sounds like it belongs somewhere in the background of a Sanford and Son episode — all jangly, chaotic, and wired. For over four minutes, Daniel spits out every word as if he’s stumbling out of a saloon with a gallon of moonshine swishing around in his head. None of it sounds like it should work together, but it does, because the band, even at their most anarchic, can’t shake off the fact that they’re a bona fide hook factory. That’s one light bulb that never goes out. –Michael Roffman

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