February 11th Release Day – Caustic Commentary: Spoon, Shamir, Raveena Big Thief

In a new weekly roundup, Glide drops caustic commentary on selected tracks from release day Friday.

Spoon – “Lucifer on the Sofa”

Spoon tried to record Lucifer on the Sofa (the album) seven different times before the pandemic hit Texas, and then many more times after that. The band has never had a break in their recording longer than the five years between Hot Thoughts and their newest. You can hear all of that on the new album, whether it be the live staple given the studio treatment on their cover of Smog’s “Held”, or their unnecessary but amiable shift towards ZZ Top fuzz. But those are the moments that feel out of place, not because they feel less like Spoon, but because they are nowhere near as effective as “Lucifer on the Sofa” (the song).

Big Thief – “Sparrow

“Sparrow” sounds like what people think Big Thief sounds like; warm, slow, acoustic, harmony, trees, apple, scarecrow, etc. But by delving directly into the simple, smallest aspects of their formula, the same way they did on U.F.O.F., the group has found another insight into the concept of genuine folk art. Not only is it easy to imagine the foursome letting their voices swell at the Gaslight, but “Sparrow” has been flapping around for years at Big Thief shows, finally finding its way to tape and proving how well Lenker can evoke her own timelessness.

Shamir – “Caught Up

For a singer as sure of himself as Shamir, Heterosexuality feels frustratingly unsure of itself. To be fair, Shamir’s confidence easily sells the clunkier lyrics, and his trauma and emotional vulnerability give the album a tone that feels genuine. So often though, his unique voice and story are waisted on hookless filler, an issue that’s not exactly new to Shamir. Still, like almost all his releases, he finds the right balance at least once, on “Caught Up”, Shamir takes on the heavy themes of sexuality and identity and provides a backing strong enough to get people listening.

Raveena – “Circuit Board

Asha’s Awakening sounds great. As a pop album, it can let acoustic guitars and psychedelic flourishes weave in and out, taking over the spacier vocal showcases and lending just enough to the pop songs to set them apart from a Timbaland track, even while heavily embracing him. “Circuit Board” pulls on that influence hard, but the track has so much going on that by the three-minute mark it’s hard to even tell what sounds are Raveena’s voice and even harder to remember the beat. Not an easy challenge for a concept album to pull off.

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