A kitchen-sinky chunk of sped-up dream pop, “Spoon” is instantly likable even as it presents more to the ear than the ear initially can absorb. Which actually isn’t easy to do, I don’t think: package sonic overload into something brisk and immediate.
Here’s maybe the key to how Boris does it: for all the aural exuberance, “Spoon” hews to the conventional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus design. This is why we can kind of “get” the song even when it’s offering more musical information in any given slice than we can consciously process. There are so many things to listen for here, from intermittent concrete sounds like breaking glass and cracking whips and children’s voices to ongoing threads like the singular rhythm section, which combines a stuttery drumbeat with a fluid, hyperactive bassline. That bursty drum sound does everything it can to break the song into disjointed moments, while the bass works hard to stitch it all together. Throughout, the slightly breathy lead vocal from guitarist Wata gives us something delightful to stay focused on when all else fails.
And never mind the difficult-to-absorb song—Boris itself is a difficult-to-absorb band. Together since 1992, a trio since 1996, this veteran Japanese outfit has a complex history of experimentation and genre-blending and -hopping. (The band has been identified with ambient, doom metal, drone metal, industrial, minimalist, noise rock, and punk, among quite a few others.) Its members all go by single names, which is just as well—slightly less information to process. They tour a lot and are reportedly more well known in North America than they are in Japan, having done things like open for Nine Inch Nails and appear on avant-garde film soundtracks, including one for Jim Jarmusch. The band’s 2006 album Pink was listed among the year’s best by Pitchfork, SPIN, and Blender. “Spoon” is a song from Boris’s new album called (finally, someone did it) New Album. New Album is actually (more complications) the band’s third release of 2011, this one a dream-pop-ish reworking of songs that were on the other two albums, with some new songs as well. MP3 via Pitchfork.