* “You’re short on long-term goals
There’s a party there that we oughta go to
If you still love rock and roll”
There’s one thing of standing up, doing it and being THAT GUY. There’s another thing of standing up, doing it, being that guy but being YOURSELF in doing it, like a pitcher who’s had that same nervous habit of kicking his left foot out ever since tee-ball.
Lucifer on the Sofa is a big, grand album, as the production-allotted, huge, booming drums will attest, and the culturally central titular theme of “idle hands being the devil’s plaything,” in concurrence with the recent pandemic shutdown. It’s a record that right away takes on big themes — romance, and, perhaps even more frighteningly, true intimacy. It’s a record whose song titles take on manifold superlatives — “hardest”; “Lucifer”; “devil”; “wild.” But it just FEELS like a Spoon record and therein lies, to me, a significant bulk of its charm and its refreshing swagger that will make it a vital listen for years to come, as well as, perhaps, Spoon’s finest LP of their career, up to this point.
As far as possible comparison points within the band’s own catalogue go, I can assure you, right away, that Lucifer on the Sofa is a sharp left-turn from Hot Thoughts (2017), whose cutesy, electro shtick was kind of tickling for one go-round but I think got us all cringing at the idea of the band running it back in that same outfit. Stylistically, it’s got a pretty similar instrumentation and production style to They Want My Soul (2014). Somehow, though, it just seems more pliable, digestible and relatable, as if being to an increased extent the result of a distinct, purposeful vision, and not just the will to craft a rock album. Lucifer on the Sofa is crafted but it’s also “rocked out,” if you will — it’s burped on with the band’s quintessential, herky-jerky groove.
Along these lines, too, LOTS feels infinitely looser than the mathematical, walking-on-eggshells Kill the Moonlight, which would yield a certain amount of transcendent listens but then some claustrophobia too from the brevity and nerdiness of the grooves. This new record just feels like Spoon have finally internalized how to BE a rock band in terms of just getting up and doing it from the hip, with sangfroid and swagger. Opener “Held” will more than account for this, which, despite wielding a somewhat tense, poignant lyrical theme, rocks along with a kind of reckless abandon over one incessant guitar riff and a thick, Interpol-ready mix. “The Hardest Cut” and “The Devil & Mister Jones” both pack hypnotic grooves and typically heady chord progressions. The band truly cross the rubicon with “Wild,” though, with its groove gusto, its beautifully lo-fi production and a dizzying bath of guitar fury that seems as natural and approachable as it is elaborate and massive.
“On the Radio” carries a coked-up sheen reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra through its deliberate, mainstream-minded but jazzy chords and rhythms. From there, we come upon a very interesting portion of the album, one composed of an almost anemic level of “jive,” per se. “Astral Jacket” tiptoes along gently and ambiently, saved from ennui by the potent sense of mourning we might have gotten in, say, “The Ghost of You Lingers.” “Satellite,” then, is without question a centerpiece of sorts, initially following its predecessor’s m.o. of casual softness before accumulating drums in the second half, unleashing the mantra of “I know I love you so” and kind of, like, conjealing into a bona fide love song, something we’ve preciously if ever observed from this band before.
The title track comes last all casual and unassuming, grooving along with a drum beat that calls to mind A Ghost is Born-era Wilco (think “Theologians”), a band that’s pretty much always fed Spoon’s creative muse at least loosely. “Lucifer on the Sofa,” though, is pure Spoon in lyrics, getting imagistic in its subtle fury (“What ’cha gonna do / With your last cigarettes? / All your own records / All your own cassettes”). Of course, it’s a little confusing as to whom he’s singing to, here, seeing as the very immediately prior song doled out a row of affection and triumph, more or less. Rock stars certainly have quite the immunity to analysis, sometimes. At the same time, though, it is true that it actually doesn’t matter to whom he’s singing — it could be his cousin. But in this way, Lucifer on the Sofa is a worthy collection of singles, which should hardly be surprising, seeing as, up to this point, they’ve pretty much awkwardly shirked the ubiquitous mainstream popularity glut in every way a band possibly can.
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