Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Spoon: Kill the Moonlight [Merge, 2002]
It's so reassuring when the indie rumor mill isn't just licking its own asshole. Britt Daniel and company's Merge-reissued 1998 Elektra cutout A Series of Sneaks doesn't qualify as the instant pleasure hypesters claim. It's too spiky and too cryptic. But it certainly earned its cult, which was onto something much bigger than last year's Girls Can Tell, the breakthrough album skeptics like me took for a fluke peak: namely, this one. Eggo Johansen's piano-styled keybs mark the hooks as Daniel exploits the catch in his voice to establish a humane mood. There's even a thematic thread. If I was feeling cranky I might argue that songs about marginality will consign you to the margins every time. But the two titles that set the course, "Small Stakes" and "How We Get By," seem pretty universal to me. A