It’s been two years since the last Spoon album, 2007’s outstanding Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which isn’t a particularly long wait for new material, especially considering gaps between their albums have ranged from one to three years apiece. But even given the averages, it’s hard not to start itching for new material, particularly from a band like Spoon, who have been consistently on since 1998’s A Series of Sneaks. Yet when asked about a new album, the band has been quick to say that their next one won’t see the light of day this year, which only makes the itch that much harder to scratch. However, with little warning, Spoon has made available a temporary salve in the form of three-song EP Got Nuffin.
“Got Nuffin'” may have been Britt Daniel’s own jocular way of pointing out that any new album will come out when it comes out, rather than when it’s requested. But as far as their songwriting goes, Spoon has a whole lot more than nuffin’ to show on this brief release. The title track, in true Spoon fashion, shows how much progress the band can make without altering their methods too drastically. It’s a fairly straightforward rock song, heavy on groove and simple, tight rhythms. But elements build and fall into place slowly as its fuzzy bassline chugs along. Tremolo and chorus-treated guitar shimmers and shivers, a piano plinks, and Britt Daniel’s voice even raises and cracks a little as he howls the choral refrain, “I got nothin’ to lose, but darkness and shadows.” It’s definitely a winner.
With second track “Tweakers,” however, the group is bound to piss some people off, and likely already has. A lo-fi loop of distorted beats and weird ambient synth, seemingly recorded straight to cell phone, “Tweakers” is bizarre by anyone’s standards, let alone a band known for playing such streamlined indie rock. But those lost on track two will likely find salvation in the third and final song, “Stroke Their Brains.” With jangly guitar, echoing vocals and soulful Rhodes piano, the song is like a garage rock answer to Hall & Oates’ “Maneater,” via Ennio Morricone.
In spite of the EP’s title, Spoon has far from “nuffin’.” In fact, they’ve got two great new pop songs, and one incredibly strange lo-fi experiment that could just hint at what kind of odd sonic explorations they may take on in the future, even if in this instance it seems less than essential. Slim as the EP may be, it’s definitely a pleasant surprise, and while the group continues to keep their forthcoming album under wraps, it will do just fine for soothing that itch.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.