Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #83 Spoon
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
First, a simple lesson in physiology:
The human eye is a concave mirror; it flips all the images that hit the pupil and projects them upside-down on the retina. These images fire through the optic nerve, and it takes some brain acrobatics to reinterpret the images we see, flipping them right-side up to stabilize our perception of the world. It's a well-documented phenomenon, a testament to the human brain's ability to adapt, to process familiarize the unfamiliar until it becomes second nature.
Britt Daniel is the receptor at the end of the optic nerve. He's built a career on flipping the commonplace into the strange, and then flipping it back again into some compelling understandable thing. Know that for every immediately resonant image in Daniel's lyrics, there's a trail of mental somersaults that preceded the moment we hear. It's this roundabout filtering process that turned Spoon into figureheads of the wild intelligent youth. You know these people: it's the movement that struggles to balance reckless booze-fueled nights with that yearning force in the pits of their stomachs, a dense anvil of desire to create something artistic and meaningful in this world. It's the people that fuck themselves up, endlessly and sometimes tragically, but for very specific reasons: they do it because all of the best artists and radical philosophers and and other nutjob legends came up on the right end of a haphazard lifestyle. (Think Bukowski.) If you're going to pull anything from this world, you have to be prepared to let it surprise you, let it beat you up a little bit, and then come back swinging. This generation needed a musical voice to validate this approach, and Spoon was the vehicle through which Daniel accepted the position. Oh, we could go kick down some doors together / stay out 'til morning, sharp as knives / The new war will get you / It will not protect you / but I will be there with you when you turn out the light...
It occurs to me that I haven't said shit about any of the instrumentation, so here we go: it is off-center, off-kilter - just simply "off." But in a good way. From their messy beginnings with Telephono and A Series of Sneaks, Spoon has corralled jilted pianos and snakebite guitars into a hectic mirror of the culture that worships them. In the end, though, it's all about Daniel. There are droves of jittery hipsters out there feeling something larger than themselves, and Daniel is the interpreter that vocalizes their impossible and elusive sense of yearning. A tall task, but one he's lived up to over 6 LPs, 5 EPs, and the ever-mounting pressure to carry a burgeoning generation.