NEW YORK (AP) — The band Spoon has taken a sonic fork in the road and, appropriately enough, the first single from their new album mentions another piece of silverware — a knife.
“The Hardest Cut” — complete with the line “we live on a knife” — roars with a dark, grunge-meets-’70s guitar energy, a signal of what’s to come from the Texas-based band on their 10-track, 10th album, “Lucifer on the Sofa.”
“We wanted to make a rock ‘n’ roll record, a great rock ‘n’ roll record,” says frontman Britt Daniel. “I just don’t feel like there’s enough great rock ‘n’ roll records being made these days.”
“Lucifer on the Sofa” via Matador Records is a turn toward more muscular, minimalist classic rock, more aggressive and rehearsed than the band’s predecessor “Hot Thoughts,” where synths were prominent and songs constructed on the fly.
“We always tend to want to react a bit against the record we just did. That last record was more of a pieced together record, a produced record. It was a record where a lot of times we started recording and we didn’t know what the song really was,” says Daniel.
For “Lucifer on the Sofa,” drummer Jim Eno says Spoon tried to lean into Texas rock and early ZZ Top, using more real instruments than effects.
“The stuff that sounds like a band playing in a room has always been the kind of records that we grew up listening to. So it was trying to capture some of that,” says Eno.
Daniel estimates the new album was two-thirds done when the pandemic hit in March 2020. “I found myself with a lot of alone time and I wrote a lot more songs. That was the thing that kind of made me feel normal during the harshest part of lockdown,” he says.
While some songs the band had been kicking around for a few years, several were informed by the pandemic, including the “The Devil & Mister Jones” about a bad dude and “Wild,” about the drudgery of life.
“We like to challenge ourselves and not repeat ourselves,” says Eno. “I feel like some bands may just have the exact same formula over and over again, and I feel like we try not to do that.”
The album starts with a cover of Smog’s “Held” and chugs along in a rock vein until getting a little spacey with “Astral Jacket” and “Satellite,” before taking a weird and cool detour with the title track.
“The lucifer on the sofa is me,” says Daniel. “It’s the character that I can become when I’m at my worst. And I think a lot of people have that same kind of character. Nobody is the same person at all times and at times of distress bad things tend to come out.
“Whenever I recognize that person come out, I try to get past it. My way of trying to get past it in this song is to get up off that sofa.”
Members of Spoon have lately returned to Austin full-time and Daniel says he’s most enjoying listening to live music on a daily basis.
“It’s a town where it’s all about live performances and bands that are doing it because it’s fun and not doing it with an eye on the music industry,” he says. “It’s the life I like.”
Spoon is getting great reviews for the new clutch of songs, with Rolling Stone saying it might be the band’s best record and Paste magazine calling it “the sound of a band in peak form who are pushing to get better, go further and resist any temptation to slack off.”
That’s a far cry from the days when Spoon were dropped by Elektra Records and had difficulty convincing anyone to put out their “Girls Can Tell” album. Daniel was advised to change the band’s name. It was considered damaged goods.
“Maybe that would have been the smart thing to do, but we didn’t do it that way,” he recalls. “We somehow found an audience and then labels were more welcome to putting out our records.”
The band plans to tour with the new material, kicking off live shows on April 6 in Boston and ending June 4 in Phoenix. Along the way, they’ll make stops in, among other cities, New York, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.
Daniel and Eno are eager to play live again and happy how “Lucifer on the Sofa” ended up. “I think Britt’s writing the best songs that he’s ever written,” says Eno. “When you’re in a band with a great songwriter, everything can fall together a lot more easily.”
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits