On Girls Can Tell (2001) and Kill the Moonlight (2002), Spoon’s previous two full-lengths, front man Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno stripped classic rock, funk, and soul verities to their bare essentials, layering elliptical bits of noise and truncated riffs over the taut, lean grooves that remained. Their latest album, Gimme Fiction (Merge), is a refinement of that formula: the songs are still fairly minimalist, but there’s more flesh on the rhythmic armature (including the best-used hand claps I’ve heard this year) and strings and horns augment the compact guitar and keyboard figures. But Daniel’s singing–a disaffected, fiercely rhythmic swagger–is still the band’s greatest asset. He employs a handful of distinctive voices on the album, using a quasi-soulful falsetto on “I Turn My Camera On” that suggests the dirty white-boy funk of the Stones’ “Miss You” and a Bowie-esque nasality on “The Beast and Dragon, Adored.” I have no idea what the fuck he’s singing about, and I don’t care; still, his vague images and metaphors linger. I usually need to make a concerted effort to remember lyrics, but Spoon’s stick in my head. They also play a free in-store at 1 PM at Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark, 773-477-5994. Sat 6/11, 9 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, 773-472-0449 or 312-559-1212, with openers the Clientele, $18 in advance, $20 at the door, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.