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A Series of Sneaks

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Album Review

With A Series of Sneaks, Spoon became one of the unsung heroes of the guitar-driven post-punk tradition inhabited by bands such as Wire, Gang of Four, Hüsker Dü, and the Pixies. These were the guitar wizards who could package a variety of taut, terse, and inventive guitar sounds and unpredictable melodies into short, tight bursts one could still consider pop songs. Lead singer and guitarist Britt Daniel acts as the overachieving honors student of this tradition, flushing the spaces in between with an expansive melodic vocabulary comparable to Robert Pollard's.

But Sneaks wouldn't work if it were merely a repository of all the right influences. Thanks to John Croslin and the band's detailed production, shards of jagged guitar lines chime in from every direction, creating a language that blends with Daniel's charismatic vocal licks to form something so tuneful and compelling that the majority of Sneaks sticks in the brain just when you've thought you'd heard it all before. Daniel's voice can range from a throaty rasp to a falsetto to a spoken growl, peppered with some "bop-bop-bops," "c'mon's," and hand clapping. It's as if Jonathan Richman had been on SST Records, or even the old Sub Pop. But it's the production — the constantly shifting vocal mixture and placement of Daniel's guitar, Joshua Zarbo's bass, and Jim Eno's drums around bits of melody — that binds Sneaks into more than the sum of its parts.

Amidst this kind of sonic engagement, it is the search for meaning in music amidst the open roads and open spaces of the American Southwest that form a central character in Daniel's fragmented and oblique lyrical universe. In a few brief lines, a drive to New York on the interstate becomes a meditation on rock and youth in "Car Radio," while "Metal School" seems to be a reassessment of the purpose of post-punk.

Elektra, the major label that originally released the CD, must have reassessed its purpose too. The band was ditched soon after its release but has since reappeared on an independent label, Vapor (and again on Merge in 2002). The enthusiasm behind its resurrection and the anticipation of its full-length follow-up after the two years that followed is a testament to its strength.

Customer Reviews

4.5 Stars: Devastating Album

Fantastic album of casual yet powerfully arranged rock songs. More than demanding of a listen.

I eat with a spoon.......

I first heard of Spoon a couple years back when my brother showed me a skate video with one of their songs called "Take A Walk" in it. From then on I have been a huge fan and was so stoked to see more of their albums put on the iTunes Music Store. 'A Series of Sneaks' is definitely a little different from some of their most recent albums but at the same time they never seem to stray to far from their very unique rock sound. You can always recognize a Spoon song. This doesn't mean all their songs are the same though. It is almost as if they have figured out a way to mix a multitude of styles all within their own style. Some of my favorite tracks on this album include "The Minor Tough", "30 Gallon Tank", and "Quincy Punk Episode". Anyways Spoon is the type of band that has continued to grow on me and I look forward to their future releases. Also if you ever get the chance to see them live I highly recommend it. It will only solidify your love for their music.

incredible album

This is one of my top five favorite records of all time. Crank it up and drive to the whole thing to really appreciate it. While I love Spoon in general, this album captures the raw, no bullsh** beauty of Spoon, where nothing that is not essential is removed, where solos are not one second more than they should be, and the songs end when they have nothing more to say.


Formed: 1994 in Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

With a heady blend of precision punk and serpentine classic rock (the band has drawn comparisons to everyone from the Pixies and Sonic Youth to Elvis Costello and Tom Petty), enigmatic, Texas-based indie pop outfit Spoon went from underground press darlings to one of the genre's premier commercially and critically acclaimed alternative rock acts. Formed in Austin by singer/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, Spoon released its debut EP, Nefarious, on the small Texas imprint Fluffer Records...
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