This album has become somewhat of an in-joke within the lairs
of EvilSponge. It's been passed around and mentioned as often
as any release of the last couple of years, and we're all telling
each other how "this is your kind of stuff, you should review
it." Yet no one has been able to muster up the gumption to actually
write the review. Oh, sure, Silvergeek went off and listed it
on his 2001 best-of
list, but he listed some thirty odd other albums that he
hasn't reviewed either, so that doesn't count.
PostLibyan passed Girls Can Tell on to me, with
the note, "This is really smooth pop. I think you might like
it. You should review it." And so it came to pass that Spoon
took up semi-permanent residence in the stack of CDs that sit
next to my disc changer, in the bottom cabinet space of my spiffy
new entertainment center. And there it sat.
Time passed. Somewhere, children were born. Somewhere, the
elderly passed on into the shadow country. And Spoon sat idle
in the stacks, never getting filed back into the shelves (a
sure sign that I have given up on listening to something, or
that Mrs. M. decided to clean some clutter), but never quite
making it into the listening rotation either. Yeah, I'd put
it in every now and then, and try to listen to it, but it never
felt right. It always came across as if I were listening
to something because I needed to review it rather than listening
to something and thinking, "Wow, I should review this." It was
Pop music shouldn't be like homework. Ever.
And then Mrs. M. would come along and say, "Hey, I want to
listen to Azure Ray. What do you
want me to take out?"
"Um, that Spoon album, I guess."
"Where's the cover?"
"It's there in the 'need-to-listen-to' stack."
This exchange evolved down to a much more precise and shortened
Mrs. M.: "I want to listen to music. Where's that damned Spoon
It is thusly that I ceased to even think of Girls Can
Tell as an actual release, and just a placeholder for
something that exists in the periphery of my vision, lacking
the power to hold my glance for any real time. It is also thusly
that I mentally renamed it That Damned Spoon Album.
Anyway, the other day I was sitting around finishing up a review
of Weezer's latest album,
and I noticed That Damned Spoon Album sitting
conveniently near the changer. And lo! There was an empty space
in the table. And hark! The large, playful cat of Fortune did
attack the small, toy mouse of Destiny, and roll and tumble
across the floor into the CD stack of Purgatory, and verily
did That Damned Spoon Album fall, literally, into
Signs and portents like these are best not left unheeded.
So I put it in. And I listened. Then I got up and made me a
sandwich. A lovely grilled ham and cheese on cracked wheat,
with crisp lettuce and freshly sliced tomatoes, and just a touch
of spicy mustard, but no mayo. And I opened some Pringles and
had some of those too.
It was still playing as I meandered back through the living
room to sit down to eat. It was slightly catchy, even. I did
a little "at home by myself with a spiffy keen sandwich dance."
I ate. I got up to wash the dishes. It was still playing. I
did a small, foot-shaking sort of dance while loading up the
It was almost a toe-tapping good time. Almost.
I thought to myself, "Man, I really liked Radio, Radio.
Elvis was cool back then." Then I stopped and wondered why I
was listening to late era Elvis Costello anyway. Sure, I own
Mighty Like a Rose, but I didn't remember thinking
I should listen to it.
But I wasn't listening to Elvis.
At this point, it all hit me at once. That Damned Spoon
Album, also known as Girls Can Tell, is
the illegitimate offspring of late-era Elvis Costello and some
unnamed indie rock mother. It is, I tell you, it is! It's subtly
catchy, yet lacks the hooks needed to really dig into your psyche.
It is slickly, even over-slickly produced, to the point of having
a shiny coat of polyurethane. It's harmless, yet utterly bland,
yet still everyone insists that the band is great. It has hyper-intellectualized
lyrics, delivered by a voice certain of nothing so much as his
own importance in the grand scheme of Important Songwriters,
lyrics that have the poetic kick of a bait ball.
Yet it's catchy, and it makes your toes dance.
I wonder if Spoon ever wrote a song as great as Radio, Radio.
That would explain a lot of the press they've received for this
album. Of course, if it were up to me, I'd just put in Elvis's
greatest hits, volume one, and program Radio, Radio to
play over and over again. Because that is a great song,
and while Girls (Girls Girls) Can Tell might be
catchy at times, it certainly doesn't have a song that great