Gimme Fiction (Merge)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Jan. 29, 2016
Given a decade's hindsight, the role of Gimme Fiction in Spoon's narrative has only grown in stature. Following a major label debacle with Elektra Records that would've doomed acts with less tenacity, songwriter/principal Britt Daniel and company solidified an enviable spot in the indie firmament by landing on Merge with 2001's Girls Can Tell. Kill the Moonlight followed the next year, but three years separate it and Gimme Fiction, which amplified the band's strengths into something wholly singular. Despite overtures toward mod-rock radio conventions of the time, lead single "I Turn My Camera On" finds Daniel's falsetto and drummer Jim Eno's narcoleptic disco beat sanded down to their starkest essence. "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" exemplifies the bandleader's ability to squeeze universal sentiment from opacity. If classic rock's timeline extended past Nevermind, piano-driven grinder "My Mathematical Mind" would be ripe for the canon by now. Howie Weinberg's remaster airs out the sound appreciably, though the album's profound lack of superfluity leaves few audible hairs to be smoothed out. The bonus disc of home demos – including two songs that didn't make the cut – give insight into Daniel's songwriting process, particularly "Sister Jack," which began life as a somewhat doleful piano ballad.