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Spoon and Rafter

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Album Review

Who expected a big stylistic turnabout? Probably nobody. Is there a big stylistic turnabout? Of course not. Album number four, Spoon and Rafter, is merely another worthy addition to the discography of Mojave 3, whose Neil Halstead is steadily building a swelling stockpile of charming, bittersweet, easygoing songs that warrant almost all of the comparisons — to icons of '60s British folk and American country-rock alike — that have been drawn throughout the years. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but bassist Rachel Goswell plays her most reduced role to date, chiming in, as always, with invaluable background vocals, yet she contributes no lead turns this time — not even one. This one irritating issue does contradict the fact that the album feels more like a natural and collaborative effort than the others. Perhaps that feel has something to do with the fact that it was recorded in their new studio, allowing them to work at their own pace. The songs remain simple, yet the interplay between the instruments is more intricate and lively than before, with minor touches — twinkles of glockenspiel, splashes of Moog, quivers of theremin — falling with ease into the snug mix. As consistent as the group has been with its sound since its second album, the feather-light debut is beginning to seem more and more like Slowdive's swan song. In fact, there are such minor differences between the records that have followed since that debut that most will only feel the need to hold on to one of them. Still, Spoon and Rafter has no trouble making Ryan Adams seem like more of a farce than he already is, and it's deserving of at least half of the attention given to anything released by Wilco.


Formed: England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Between the recording and release of Slowdive's ambient Pygmalion, Neil Halstead began writing more song-based tunes to occupy down time. Weeks after being dropped by Creation, Halstead and the remaining members of Slowdive (Rachel Goswell and Ian McCutcheon) recorded six demos within three days, much of it live without overdubs. Their manager brought the tape to 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell, who immediately gave the trio money to record more material. Feeling that the direction was too removed to...
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Spoon and Rafter, Mojave 3
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