Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Two albums by major indie rock bands came out on Tuesday: the previously reviewed Our Love to Admire and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon. And the latter is much, much better. Two of the highlights (“You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”, “The Underdog”) resemble “Sister Jack” from Gimme Fiction, Spoon’s previous album, but both add soul-infused rhythms to the mix, with “The Underdog” even receiving a horn section, something unexpected from such a minimalist band (“I Turn My Camera On,” the hit from Gimme Fiction, has two chords and three bass notes; I’ve counted). But it works astoundingly well. “Don’t You Evah” also incorporates soul influences, but eschews the guitar pop that characterizes “Cherry Bomb” and “Underdog,” making for another great track. “Black Like Me” breaks new ground as well, being as it is the first ballad Spoon’s done, and Spoon succeeds here as well. Four other tracks “Don’t Make Me a Target,” “Rhthm and Soul,” “Eddie’s Ragga,” and “Finer Feelings” continue in more or less Spoon’s usual way, which, considering Spoon’s past work, isn’t bad at all.
Only two tracks are problems. “The Ghost of You Lingers” is a minimalist (duh) piano-driven track. Actually, take away the “driven,” because this song basically consists of Britt Daniels banging on a piano, Philip Glass-style, with airy atmospherics and echoey vocals added. Maybe I’m just a lightweight, but this is experimentalism for its own sake, and it doesn’t work. Nor does “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case,” the band’s foray into hard rock. Like “Ghost,” it seems too obsessed with emulating a genre foreign to the band, which comes at the expense of catchiness and overall appeal.
But eight out of ten ain’t bad, and, thankfully, neither is Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

Our Love to Admire

Interpol’s latest album, Our Love to Admire, is quite difficult to listen to straight through. This isn’t because it’s a bad album; though it’s quite clearly inferior to Turn on the Bright Lights and Antics, it’s still quite good. It’s just that its quality is biased toward its beginning. While the album’s first half is close to on par with the band’s previous albums, the second half is flat, and something that Interpol has never been before: boring.
In keeping with this, the album’s first song, “Pioneer to the Falls,” is also its best. “Falls” melds the catchy riffs of Antics with the foreboding atmospherics of Bright Lights, and completes the package with production that they could only get with a major label (they just defected from Matador to Capitol). It’s simultaneously textbook Interpol and unlike anything they’ve done before. After the somewhat forgettable “No I in Threesome” and “The Scale” comes “The Heinrich Maneuver,” a somewhat peppier version of “PDA,” which, while less enduringly enjoyable than “PDA,” is still a fine addition to Interpol’s singles collection. The bridge (“today my heart swings”) basically makes the song. Next is “Mammoth,” the angriest and most profane song Interpol’s ever done, which works extremely well. Remind me not to get Paul Banks mad at me.
Which I’ll do right now. The sad fact of the matter is the rest of the album is bad. Not actively bad; it doesn’t grate. It’s just boring, uneventful, and not worth listening to. It’s hard to explain this; there’s no commercial reason for them to do this, and this problem didn’t affect Bright Lights or Antics. But it’s present all the still. Don’t get me wrong; “Falls,” “Heinrich,” and “Mammoth” are more than enough to make this a good album. But Interpol can do better. They have, and, I can only hope, they will.

Sporadic Blogging Alert

I suppose I should give an explanation for why I haven’t blogged in a week, despite such notable stories as the 2nd quarter fundraising reports (awesome/hilarious), the Libby commutation (horrible but not at all surprising), the revelation, from Gary Hart and Lee Hamilton, via Jim Fallows, that we could very well have been fighting China if it weren’t for 9/11 (even scarier than I would have thought), and the criticism of Sarkozy for engaging in the allegedly right-wing activity of jogging (you gotta love the French). The reason is that I’ve been interning for the Barack Obama campaign down in Manchester for most of that time, leaving little time for Minipuditry (yes, that is a noun now). So expect very light and irregular blogging for the duration of the summer.