Everything Hits At Once: Girls Can Tell Turns 20

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Spoon – Girls Can Tell

Released February 20th, 2001 on Merge Records

Produced by Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, and Mike McCarthy

Peaked at #46 (US Indie)

By the time 2001 rolled around Spoon had already put out two albums, first on Matador and then on Elektra. Neither of these albums caught the world on fire, largely because they sounded more like an amalgamation of Pavement and the Pixies than they did anything else. Girls Can Tell, their first album for Merge, sounds like Spoon, and the difference is what made the band the long-running critical darlings they remain today. A song like “Believing Is Art” would have had no place on those first two records, but it’s unmistakably a Spoon song – the crunching rhythm, the barely-contained fuzz guitar spasms, Jim Eno’s restrained but cutting drums, Britt Daniel channeling all of his anxiety into his breathy, clipped delivery. They even manage to make their cover of fellow Austinites The Sidehackers’ “Me And The Bean” sound like what would come to be understood as a Spoon song. Later albums would find them shaving off the wild fuzzy edges of their songs and forging them into slinky minimalist masterpieces; Girls Can Tell was their first real kick at it, and it still bears some of the shaggy leftovers of their former influences, such as the ghosts of Wowee Zowee era Pavement (or Trompe Le Monde era Pixies) on “Lines In The Suit.” In a sense it was Spoon “selling out” – after all, it stripped the screechy bits off of their songs and presented a much slicker, more polished version of the band. Remember Matt Lillard’s dad in SLC Punk though? Spoon never sold out – they bought in. There’s a difference, son.

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