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Ear to the Ground: Spoon’s “Rent I Pay”

The Austin indie stars’ first album in four years balances an old-school rock feel with fresh songwriting—and a raunchy vibe courtesy of famed producer Joe Chiccarelli.

Hey Spoon fans, your patience has been officially rewarded: The seminal Austin indie band has finally unveiled “Rent I Pay”—the lead song from They Want My Soul, their first album in four years. If you’re one of those hardcore devotees who recently saw them premier this tune via live webcast on NPR, you might have noticed that there were three guitarists onstage. Spoon recently added Alex Fischel, who previously joined frontman Britt Daniel in his supergroup Divine Fits.

The track begins with said guitars crunching out sleazy garage riffs over Daniels’ dozy swagger. If “Rent I Pay” sounds more decadently trashy than previous Spoon tunes, it could be on account of the album’s producers. You read that right—for the first time ever, Spoon has collaborated with a couple of outside producers. Joe Chiccarelli imports some of the gussied-up 6-string raunch he’s put on recordings by the White Stripes, the Strokes, and Ian Moore (among many others). Daniel and company also tapped Dave Fridmann—who’s worked with Tame Impala, the Flaming Lips, and MGMT—for mixing.

But while Spoon is more radio-friendly than ever before, they still sound like Spoon. The songs still sound equally informed by old and new records—but nothing really in between. In other words, they’re not mining from the mid- to late-’90s sound that many middle-aged fans wish they’d return to. “Rent I Pay” is a healthier mix of old-school rock ’n’ roll balanced with a fresh songwriting approach.