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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"Wild" is yet another success from Spoon

The ever-excellent band combine classic rock influences with their modern indie sound on a recent single.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can confirm that I've finally found a band that does not have any skips in their entire catalog.

I know, it's hard to believe, especially when considering this group has now released ten albums as of February 11. Even the greatest and most established acts tend to have at least one skip, if not multiple, once they've reached that number of records. As accomplished as Guns N' Roses are, for instance, there's the mushroom-induced industrial mess of "My World" from Use Your Illusion II. Heck, even as ardent a Coldplay fan as I am, I will waste no time pointing out "X Marks the Spot," a hidden track from A Head Full of Dreams, as a failed experiment.

But then there's Spoon, an Austin-based band whose discography is remarkably consistent in being top-tier rock fare. Their most recent effort, Lucifer on the Sofa, continues their never-miss streak and then some, meeting if not surpassing the excellence they had previously achieved over close to three decades together. It took me a while to narrow down which song from the album I wanted to discuss, but after a recent listen, I had "Wild" stuck in my head today, and that'll probably be the closest I get to deciding on a true favorite for a long while.

"Wild" is honest-to-goodness rock done Spoon's way, and for me, that starts with lead singer and rhythm guitarist Britt Daniel. Even though he isn't the first member of the band to be heard. Daniel's distinctive vocal and instrumental timbre reliably defines Spoon's work. His vocal snarl provides a grit that plays into the track's theme of wanting to take on the world and live adventurously, especially in the context of its Hollywood Western-inspired video. While Daniel's rhythm guitar playing takes a clear supporting role in this track, his signature Telecaster model is simultaneously ringing and percussive, allowing it to both be propulsive and bright in its backing figures; combined with Jim Eno's tight, straight-ahead drums and Ben Trokan's bass, it provides a harmonic and rhythmic foundation from which the rest of the track can build upward.

And build upward it most certainly does. Gerardo Larios' lead guitar enters doubling Daniel's rhythm at the start of the second verse, giving the section a roots-like flavor while suggesting a further dynamic and rhythmic advance will soon emerge. Then, there's my favorite moment of "Wild," and perhaps of Lucifer on the Sofa as a whole: Alex Fischel announcing the arrival of the second chorus with a warm, full piano chord. It's a euphoric release reminiscent of the Rolling Stones in the best way possible, especially as the piano comes to be the defining instrument of the second and third choruses.

That entry, and the release it embodies, feels all the more impactful because of the decision to delay it to the second chorus. Had it entered at 40 seconds rather than at 80, not only would it have felt less special, but it also would have made it more difficult to make the second chorus stand out from the first. The piano entry is thus a shining example of the power of patience and gradual introduction of new elements in songwriting, an invaluable combination that can foster powerful emotional responses to music. Whoever wrote "Wild" certainly knows what they're doing. *investigates* Ah, no wonder — Jack Antonoff wrote it alongside Britt Daniel. The man behind Bleachers and a frequent Taylor Swift collaborator in recent years, Antonoff knows how to craft emotional payoff as well as any writer in the popular music scene.

For most bands, saying any release is par for the course would be a knock against them. However, when it comes to Spoon, it's a compliment to their continued excellence. "Wild" is therefore par for Spoon's course as it pertains to their seemingly permanent success, even as (or perhaps especially as) they continue to vary their sound.


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