Britt Daniel, CEO of Spoon, says the title image Lucifer on the Sofa popped into his mind during a long nighttime walk in downtown Austin. Only after writing the piece did he realize its deeper meaning: that devil sitting across from you on the couch represents what bitterness, inertia and despair can do to you. Music lovers can rest assured: Britt is the winner of this face-off with the Evil One. The proof is in Lucifer on the Sofa, which reinforces the conviction that Spoon’s discography–now ten albums long–is one of the most consistent, coherent, and richest in Western rock over the past 30 years.
Lucifer begins with a cover (a rare occurrence for Spoon) of “Held” by lo-fi guru Bill Callahan (Smog), in a version a bit more fleshed-out. The boogie-rock “The Hardest Cut” confirms what we suspected for a long time, even if it may seem incongruous: Britt Daniel is a ZZ Top fan. The soulfulness of “The Devil & Mister Jones” comes from the brassy contribution of Steve Berlin. On “Wild”, co-created by Jack Antonoff (St. Vincent, Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift) and Daniel, the latter ends his verses with “Mmmm-Yeah’s” reminiscent of Mick’s in “Sympathy for the Devil”, proving that the Prince of Darkness is never far. We notice the growing contribution from guitarist-keyboardist Alex Fischel, who has been with Spoon since 2014’s They Want My Soul, as he co-created three of the ten tracks with Britt Daniel, who can also continue to count on the unwavering support of drummer Jim Eno. “My Babe,” “Feels Alright,” “On the Radio,” “Astral Jacket”, “Satellite,” and the title track perfectly illustrate the inherent qualities of this band: lyrics that are just arcane enough, moods that are sometimes unsettling, Britt Daniel’s “mouthful of hot oatmeal” phrasing and hypersincere intonations, unpredictability (sizzling guitars following soft passages, startling rock bursts), and acutely intelligent pop melodies. The element that transcends all of the above and makes Spoon Spoon, however, remains Britt Daniel’s sensitivity.