0107: “The Underdog” by Spoon

Spoon is what you get when you combine Austin, Texas and a lead singer who grew up influenced by The Cure and AC/DC in equal parts. They are an indie band whose last 4 albums all reached the top 50 on the Billboard charts, yet I would suspect that many people would not know who they are until they heard one of their singles. They are mostly viewed positively by critics—their Metacritic scores range from 84-88 for the albums they released last decade—but they aren’t overloved critics’ darlings either like Radiohead. They are an indie band with plenty of mainstream sensibility. They make great music in unspectacular ways. They are like an All-Pro NFL guard: their skill is great but it can’t overcome the inherent invisibility of the position to the audience. Take “The Underdog” for example. It’s a great song, it’s catchy, it puts mariachi-ish horns to good use, Britt Daniel’s voice has the right amount of alt-country gravel to it, it shifts speed quite nicely. It’s a great little single. You’ll probably like it if you haven’t heard it before. But if I asked you to name your favorite songs of the 2000s it will probably get lost amongst the mix of all the other quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and linebackers. All this band has done is quietly put together a Hall of Fame resumé, one that makes their induction a given while simultaneously making one truly not appreciate their greatness until the ceremony.

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