Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

On its last several albums, Austin’s Spoon has used its much-vaunted minimalism to concentrate the mystery that’s an essential part of frontman Britt Daniel’s songwriting. Spoon tunes work like tightly bundled packages of word, riff and beat, each element designed not to reveal anything more than what you get from Daniel’s lyrics—which isn’t much. A kind of obfuscation by omission, it’s a trick that’s become one of the indie scene’s most impressive.

On Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the group’s excellent new album, Daniel appears to relax his grip on Spoon’s sound. These ten songs are littered with stray bits of in-studio chatter and what sounds like instruments being warmed up for solos that never arrive; often, one track bleeds almost haphazardly into the next, as if Mike McCarthy, the band’s longtime engineer, had left the tape running while he ducked out for a sandwich.

Of course, the air of randomness is no accident. Daniel’s songs half-describe impending change of both the romantic and professional varieties: In “Finer Feelings,” where a jumbled fabric of harmony vocals overlays a shaggy soul-rock groove, Daniel dreams of finding love in “commercial appeal.” And so Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s self-conscious sloppiness mirrors the sense of potential chaos in the lyrics. Mystery still reigns, and this time Daniel seems just as flustered by it as we are.

Spoon plays Roseland Ballroom Oct 20.

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)