Lovesexy Beast

Spoon mastermind Britt Daniel channels Prince by turning his camera on.

The Napster/iPod age has rendered full-length albums irrelevant. Future technologies will make full-length songs equally obsolete. So let’s concentrate on twenty-second moments, specifically the best twenty-second moment of 2005.

That would be 1:15 through 1:35 of Spoon’s “I Turn My Camera On.”

One could feasibly describe “I Turn My Camera On” as “porn-y.” It’s a strutting, pelvis-thrusting slow jam that allows Spoon maestro Britt Daniel — ordinarily a debonair-sounding dude — to prance about in full falsetto, hooting sentiments that, in typical Spoon fashion, totter precariously between sincerely direct and willfully abstract: I turn my feelings off/Y’made me untouchable for life.

For the first 1:15 this affair is light, trebly, terse, unnerving. But then the bass kicks in full power, and Britt reverts to his normal pitch and excitedly barks Keep! On! Blowin’ up! Keep! On! Blowin’ ’em off! Get! Up! Roll it out! Keep! On! Showin’ ’em out! as the post-punky guitars and thwacking drums congeal into that rarest of beasts: Indie-Rock Funk. Within twenty seconds a dissonant keyboard butts in and jars the tune back into porn-y territory. But that suddenly blast of brutish warmth in such a calculatedly frigid track is exhilarating.

You know what it sounds like, actually? Prince’s “Kiss.” Few greater compliments can be paid, and Britt evidently gets paid a lot.

“I was doing karaoke at somebody’s house, and I was singing, I think it was a girl’s song, and so I sang it in falsetto,” he recalls. “And these people there at the party were like, ‘That sounds like Prince.’ That’s just what people think of. To me, I never really was trying to emulate Prince, but I did think that if I did a song that was all falsetto, everyone would think of Prince.”

He did, and you will, and the world is thus a much better place. Gimme Fiction, the mighty full-length from which “I Turn My Camera On” springs, is full of such abrupt blasts of unmitigated joy: The exuberant string section that slices through the cocky mod-pop of “Two Sides/Monsieur Valentine,” the tumultuous, piano-bashing climax of “My Mathematical Mind,” the barreling drum rolls that punctuate the eerie silences within “The Delicate Place.” Spoon is a longtime, relatively underground favorite — 2003’s Kill the Moonlight and especially 2001’s Girls Can Tell are beloved guitar-pop documents among the Magnet-reading crowd. But Fiction raises the stakes, darkens the corners, and heightens the melodrama. Album of the Year, dudes.

Part of Fiction‘s otherworldly mystique lies in the way Britt and drummer Jim Eno — the Austin outfit’s only two consistent members — recorded it. Though Spoon is a full-band operation on the road, the record vacillates between full-on rockers and sparser Dude Recording in His Bedroom oddities. It’s a strange mix of inviting and isolated, organic and robotic. “I like the fun of making a produced record, all of the magic sonic things you can do in the studio,” Britt says. “I’m into that, but sometimes you wanna hear a band playing, and that is a different thing. It’s a different feel. It’s like Led Zeppelin versus Prince. I love both, but Led Zeppelin was very much a live band. They played together like mad. The Prince records I like are just him, building up creations. I like both.”

With Fiction, he’s kinda made both. Give it a few minutes of your time, or, at the very least, twenty seconds.

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