Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa: Album Review

Spoon are the perfect band for musical obsessives and close to the thirty-year mark comes their tenth studio album Lucifer On The Sofa. Being regarded as a critic’s band can be a curse but back the perpetually morphing outfit come. Here, there and everywhere.

Formed in Austin, Texas in 1993 with founding members Britt Daniel guitar and lead vocals and Jim Eno drums. A superb rhythm section is at the core of their multi-faceted music. Current band is completed with Alex Fischel and Gerardo Larios guitars and keyboards, and Ben Trokan bass and keyboards.

Their name comes from the title of a Can song. That may help to familiarise to their artistic approach. John Lydon was also a fan of the Progressive Kraut Rockers, as he went from Pistols to Public Image Limited.

Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa

Held begins with lumbering rhythm guitar riffs and the skewed and off-kilter approach of Memphis Rock’n’Roll avant-gardes like Jim Dickinson or Panther Burns. Tasty skronk comes bubbling over the top. Electric wails and dissonant screeches. The drama builds. The singer stays ambivalent.

The Hardest Cut. Even more primitive. Elemental Afrossippi beats with sticks, which unfolds into a John Lee Hooker stomp Blues. Nasty nerve-jarring guitar tones, like those early Sun Studio players Izear Ike Turner or Pat Hare. Electric strings resonate down that wormhole to Sixties Garage R’n’B.

The Devil & Mister Jones. Daniel’s sneering vocals connect this to Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man. They put more Rock’n’Roll swing into it. Yesterday/ He made a blind man see/ And then tomorrow/ Take’s back everything. Beds down into a nice Blues shuffle. A baritone sax honks appropriately, what he’s selling.

With Wild, the tone shifts for the rest of the album. Earnest Americana Pop and the singer sounds a little like Tom Petty. Guitars contain nasty little hooks, with sharp edges that can cut.

Spoon released two Tom Petty songs played live as a single in March 2021. Breakdown and A Face in the Crowd.

My Babe. Not the Little Walter classic, but a great little street-smart R’n’B number with a Latino beat. The singer has some of the phrasing of Willy Deville, from that time when Mink Deville’s Spanish Harlem Soul got somehow mixed in with Punk.

The rhythm section is superb throughout, and on Feels Alright the drummer has the muscle and drive that Charlie Watts provided the Rolling Stones all through the Seventies. Some piano boogie also helps.

On The Radio. Follows the tradition of paying homage to where Popular music took over the world. Border Radio by the Blasters, The Van Morrison trio of Brown-Eyed Gal, Domino and Caravan and on through to Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman.

I think I was born to it/ You know what I’m looking for/ On the radio.

Satellite. Arty little piano intro to a Psychedelic Pop number placing it in the wake of Sgt Pepper influenced songs. The spirit of Alex Chilton, Memphis Rock’n’Roll pioneer of the Box Tops and Big Star infamy, haunts this album and manifests here in the psychodrama as the song unfolds. Held in check by a classic Rock guitar solo.

Title track Lucifer on the Sofa. A warm Pop tune which has the subject lounging lizard-like on the couch. The singer has the Spanish Stroll phrasing. All your old records/ All your old cassettes/ Whatcha gonna do with your last cigarette? Eiree and ominous inside that melodic Noir Jazz packaging.

Idiosyncratic as to be expected. What was started in Austin in 2018 has taken some time to surface with circumstances also dictated by the pandemic times. A genuine tour-de-force is Lucifer On The Sofa and they remain cult ravers.

Rev Orange Peel