Spoon’s newest offering, Lucifer on the Sofa, released on February 11, 2022, presents a satisfyingly rudimentary palette of sounds that sees loud guitars and a marauding rhythm section return as the main musical thrust. The band forfeits the slick dance-rock grooves that featured prominently on their last record, Hot Thoughts, and deliver one of their most immediate feeling records to date.
They moved back to their hometown Austin, Texas for the recording of this album. Soaking in the eccentricities of the city built on live music and creative spectacle, the band sought to craft something that sounded like it came straight from a sticky Texas stage and less like a polished studio birthing. Lucifer on the Sofa is their stripped-back rock and roll record. It sounds wonderfully heavy yet retains the melodic charm of their earlier work.
The album opens with a beefy, pulsating drum beat on the track “Held”. Wide-panned, dirty guitars enter the scene, soon followed by a thick bass that fits lazily in the groove. The vocals are bluesy, improvisational, and spaced out in a way that the lyrical vagaries come poking through with haunting resonance. You picture lead singer, Britt Daniel, stepping back and forth from the microphone, taking a drag of a cigarette, pondering what he’s going to say next. It has a Jim Morrison, L.A Woman-era, sultriness to it.
Daniel impeccably modulates vocal aggression throughout the record. He does this most notably on the chorus of “On The Radio”, as well as on “Wild”, when he shouts, “And the world, still so wild, called to me.” The lyrics here point to internal strife; one borne from a feeling of existential yearning. Modern living offers no allayment of these thoughts, as he passionately sings on the chorus, “I’d been caught, I was lost on my knees. The rest of the album’s lyrics follow a similarly reflective agenda.
The aptly named track, “The Hardest Cut”, is the album at its most forceful. The single-string guitar line after each chorus is mixed to devilish perfection; loud, heavy, and an energetic slash to the chest. The whole album is tightly produced, and the arrangement of sounds is equally brilliant. The distant low-tuned drums on “Astral Jacket” blend elegantly with shakers, and the grand piano on the second half of “My Babe” offers a stimulating counter to the bright acoustic guitars. The “Devil & Mister Jones” is another memorable moment on an album that rarely dips towards the bland or uninteresting. It is a swanky, feel-good pop number that has the most danceable rhythm on the album. Even quieter tunes like the title track, “Lucifer on the Sofa”, and the penultimate “Satellite” offer attractive melodies that stand out on top of delicately arranged instrumentation.
Spoon has etched out a unique position for themselves as indie-rock mainstays. The Austin-based band always manages to stay firmly themselves whilst always remaining guardedly experimental. The album, Lucifer on the Sofa, is another fine example of Spoon’s distinct penchant for steady sonic exploration. They find a new yet familiar sound on this record. It feels intense, visceral, and stems from an era gone by – it’s a proper rock and roll record.