Time may not exactly heal all wounds, but it can lend the perspective and strength to channel pain into something positive. Such is the case with Spoon; their perennial indie rock underdog status and disastrous stint on Elektra have focused and tempered the trio's brash energy instead of crushing it. Their third full-length, Girls Can Tell, reflects the group's lean, hungry stance in its spare, spiky, immaculately crafted songs. "Take the Fifth" and "Take a Walk" take Spoon's smart, bouncy, slightly tough signature sound to another level; while the ghosts of the Pixies, Nirvana, and Elvis Costello still haunt songs like "Lines in the Suit," Girls Can Tell's sharp wordplay, barbed guitars, and appealingly raw vocals prove that the group embraces their influences without becoming slaves to them. Britt Daniel's increasingly eclectic and expansive songwriting comes to the forefront on "Everything Hits at Once," a taut, brooding pop song driven by vibes, keyboards, yearning, and pride; "Me and the Bean" suggests the direction alternative/indie rock should have taken after Nirvana's implosion. This album is also Spoon's most emotionally eclectic collection of songs, ranging from "Anything You Want," a sunny pop song drawn with just a few artfully placed strokes to "1020 AM," a brooding, slightly psychedelic piece of folk-rock that recalls Daniel's Drake Tungsten side project. "This Book Is a Movie," an appropriately tense, filmic instrumental, and "Chicago at Night," a slightly spooky pop song with winding guitars and an off-kilter melody, complete Girls Can Tell, making it Spoon's most mature, accomplished work to date and a fine balance of fire and polish.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares