Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., June 21, 2002
SpoonA Series of Sneaks (Merge) "The aftermath of promotion -- it's time to take the trash out and redefine what you are," sings Britt Daniel on "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now," a terse strummer directed at Elektra A&R man Ron Laffitte, who signed the band in 1998 and allowed them to be dropped four months after A Series of Sneaks was released. The stellar Chapel Hill, N.C., indie Merge has taken the choice opportunity to reissue the album, as it fell out of print shortly after Spoon was dropped. Fittingly, two songs about Laffitte, originally on a Saddle Creek 7-inch, have been included here. Daniel and company have since garnered a legion of new fans with last year's poppier Merge debut Girls Can Tell, but the tense, jagged A Series of Sneaks stands as one of the great achievements of the late Nineties, Spoon fan or no. Bursting with an energy often crackling just below the surface, the John Croslin-produced Sneaks is a succession of short, spontaneous-sounding fragments, bathed in the eureka glow one finds only at the moment of creation. The flow is outrageously good, tributaries of consciousness twisting and turning in an indescribably natural way. Daniel's warm, fuzzy tremolo and drummer Jim Eno's nervous shuffle on "30 Gallon Tank" give way to the live-wire barrage of "Car Radio," one of the finest 90-second songs ever written. "Muh-muh-mah! Muh-muh-mah!" Daniel repeats. His inarticulations and double-entendres, along with the extended keyboard bridge of "Metal Detektor" and the dynamic cover art (©1920, Giacomo Balla) speak a language that transcends by leaps and bounds the catchy rock & roll album Ron Laffitte expected to hear.