Spoon, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” [10th Anniversary Reissue]

Spoon
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga [10th Anniversary Reissue]
MERGE
9/10

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the apex of Spoon’s early-career run. It’s their most popular and the most pop oriented album, with just enough glimmers of the band’s previous five albums (most of which are stellar) to keep fans who fell in love during A Series of Sneaks to remain loyal. Spoon has always walked a fine line between striving for commercial success and remaining a genuinely innovative pop project. Because of this, their albums have been rich in substantive songwriting, with one or two tracks so wonderfully pop-y, they wind up on The O.C. or I Love You, Man. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the logical conclusion of this balance, an effort seamlessly weaving between earworm melodies and genuine experimentation.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was mainly recorded in the band’s hometown of Austin, Texas, with producer Mike McCarthy, who helmed production for the band from Girls Can Tell through Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Released in 2007, Merge has reissued the album for its ten year anniversary, along with a bonus record of outtakes and demos titled Get Nice!. While Get Nice! was originally issued with the album as a bonus disc, it’s being included as the main selling point for this reissue, alongside remastered versions of the songs by Howie Weinberg. The reissue’s bonus material doesn’t add all that much to the band’s story or the making of this record—a few of the alternate takes are indeed nice—but the record itself does serve as a welcome reminder of just how long Spoon has been an excellent band.

Album opener “Don’t Make Me a Target” is classic Spoon: crunchy guitars, powerful drums, and a cathartic chorus. It’s a statement of intent, a declaration of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s no-bullshit mentality. From here, though, on “The Ghost of You Lingers,” the album makes a quick left turn, looping skirmishing piano chords for three minutes, overlain by Daniel’s experimental play with melody. The multiple vocal parts are mixed in stereo, and they swirl around the piano, attacking from all angles in a mesmerizing arrangement. This one-two punch sets the stage for the way the band approaches the entire record—simplistic, yet staggeringly efficient in crafting pop hooks. “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” is one of their catchiest hits to date, and the band’s decision to go a little bigger and include horn arrangements pays dividends here and throughout (see: the Jon Brion–produced lead single “The Underdog”).

The main value of this reissue comes down to a simple question: What’s the purpose of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s reemerging? It’s a seminal album by a seminal band, and at the speed we consume music, it’s a worthwhile exercise to move backwards as often as forwards. That said, the bonus disc almost undermines the album’s precision and attention to detail.

But as the band approaches their twenty-fifth year, it’s important to recognize, appreciate, and celebrate both their vitality and unending consistency. Their music is a marvel, and Spoon diehards don’t need a reissue to revisit an album likely solidified in their rotation—although for new fans there’s no better place to start than here. Perhaps Britt Daniel says it best on album closer “Black Like Me”: “I believed that someone would take care of me tonight.” It’s his most affecting performance on the album. And he’s right. We will take care of him.

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