A Series of Sneaks

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A Series of Sneaks
ASeriesOfSneaks.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 28, 1998 (Elektra Records)
2002 (Merge Records)
Recorded1997 in Austin, Texas
Genre
Length33:14
LabelMerge Records
ProducerJohn Croslin, Spoon
Spoon chronology
30 Gallon Tank
(1998)
A Series of Sneaks
(1998)
Love Ways
(2000)

A Series of Sneaks is the second album released by the band Spoon. It was released in 1998 by Elektra, then re-released with The Agony of Laffitte CD single tracks added on in 2002 by Merge Records. Despite being overlooked critically and commercially upon release, the album has since attained cult status[3][4]

Composition[edit]

The music on this album has been compared to that of the Pixies, Wire, Pavement,[1] Archers of Loaf, Gang Of Four, Robert Pollard[5] and The Fall. Jonathan Druy of AllMusic calls the band "guitar wizards who could package a variety of taut, terse, and inventive guitar sounds and unpredictable melodies into short, tight bursts one could still consider pop songs".[6] Chris Morgan of Treble writes that despite "many of this album’s songs (being) two to three minutes or less, (with) some being ambient interludes between actual songs[...]Spoon reminds the listener that short does not necessarily mean incomplete or lazy", describing them as "a meticulous marriage of icy but melodic guitars, rigid bass and drums and Daniel’s assertive vocals."[1] Mark Abraham of Cokemachineglow writes that "much of the beauty and tension comes from the incredibly interesting way Spoon plays with rhythm".[7]

The same article also calls it "a concept-driven album that plays inertia and movement against one another as metaphors for individual growth, communal interaction, and persistence in the face of modernity". Daniel's lyricism has been described as "hallucinogenic" and "strangely wordy".[8] The aforementioned AllMusic review writes that "amidst (the album's) sonic engagement, it is the search for meaning in music amidst the open roads and open spaces of the American Southwest that form a central character in Daniel's fragmented and oblique lyrical universe", elaborating further that "in a few brief lines, a drive to New York on the interstate becomes a meditation on rock and youth in "Car Radio," while "Metal School" seems to be a reassessment of the purpose of post-punk".

Release[edit]

Spoon signed to Elektra Records in 1998. Appropriately enough, Elektra had also been the record label that found and developed the Pixies.[9] Through Elektra the band released A Series of Sneaks in May 1998. The album did not sell as well as the label had hoped; merely four months after the release of Sneaks, Spoon's Elektra A&R man Ron Laffitte quit his job and that week the band was dropped from the label.[10] Angry with Laffitte, who had promised to stick with the band, Spoon recorded a vindictive yet humorously-titled two-song concept single entitled "The Agony of Laffitte," which was released by Saddle Creek Records. They lamented their experience with the music business executive and questioned his motivations with the songs "The Agony of Laffitte" and "Laffitte Don't Fail Me Now".[11]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[12]
The Austin Chronicle4/5 stars[13]
Pitchfork9.4/10[14]
Q4/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[16]
Stylus MagazineA[2]

A Series of Sneaks was positively received by critics upon release, the songs being praised by critics for their brevity, intelligent lyrics and abundance of catchy hooks. Nick Mirov of Pitchfork called it "one of the catchiest albums of the year".[14]

Reviewing its 2002 reissue, David Peisner of Rolling Stone wrote that the album "hasn't lost any bite".[17] Michael Chamy of The Austin Chronicle calls it one of the "great achievements of the late Nineties".[13]

Legacy[edit]

The album also went on to be included in several lists. Magnet ranked it at #29 on their "Top 60 Albums, 1993-2003" list.[18] Pitchfork Media ranked the album at #54 on their original "Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s" list, though it was later excluded from the updated one.[18] Treble magazine also ranked the album the 9th best of the decade.[18]

Chris Morgan of Treble wrote that "It would be a bit hasty to say that A Series of Sneaks was ahead of its time, an achievement that is more daunting with every passing decade. Rather Spoon simply dusted off sounds of an era not yet fully appreciated by American audiences and it could be said that albums of this type were catalysts that made it possible for a band like Modest Mouse to become the next Green Day."[1] Chris Deville of Stereogum finds the album "fun and exciting", calling it their "most underrated" and bemoaning its lack of success.[5] The same magazine would go on to rank it the 5th best Spoon album.[19] Bryan Sanchez of Delusions of Adequacy calls the album (with respect to the rest of their discography) a "game-changer that’s always overlooked because it’s not from this decade, because it’s rough around the edges, and because it’s probably the boldest – all reasons why it may just be their best", going on to state that "it has everything any music fan could love."[20] Mark Abraham of Cokemachineglow wrote that while the album "(isn't) some forgotten ur-masterpiece that would stand high amongst a forest including Loveless, OK Computer or Nevermind [...] Its roots, however, spread wide throughout the ground that bore those same trees, feeding off their energy and yielding a gem of an indie rock album."[7]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Britt Daniel except where noted.

No.TitleLength
1."Utilitarian"1:51
2."The Minor Tough"2:43
3."The Guestlist/The Execution"2:03
4."Reservations"2:36
5."30 Gallon Tank" (Daniel, Jim Eno)4:00
6."Car Radio"1:30
7."Metal Detektor"3:39
8."June's Foreign Spell"3:00
9."Chloroform"1:10
10."Metal School" (Daniel, Josh Zarbo)2:54
11."Staring at the Board"0:54
12."No You're Not"1:43
13."Quincy Punk Episode"2:17
14."Advance Cassette"2:54
Total length:33:14

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Spoon - A Series of Sneaks". treblezine.com.
  2. ^ a b Freelon, Deen (September 1, 2003). "Spoon – A Series of Sneaks – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Staff, MTV News. "Sunday Morning: Future Cult Legends Spoon". MTV News.
  4. ^ "ATP Festivals All Tomorrows Parties London Manchester". All Tomorrow's Parties.
  5. ^ a b "Spoon's 'A Series Of Sneaks' Turns 20". 4 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Series of Sneaks - Spoon - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  7. ^ a b "Spoon: A Series of Sneaks - Records". Cokemachineglow.
  8. ^ Terich, Jeff. "Spoon : A Series of Sneaks".
  9. ^ Cook, John, Mac McCaughan, and Laura Ballance. Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 2009. [1]
  10. ^ Tim McMahan, "Lazy-I Interview: Spoon", The Omaha Weekly, April 18, 2001.
  11. ^ Camden Joy, "Total System Failure", The Village Voice, January 18, 2000.
  12. ^ Druy, Jonathan. "Series of Sneaks – Spoon". AllMusic. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Chamy, Michael (June 21, 2002). "Spoon: A Series of Sneaks (Merge)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Mirov, Nick. "Spoon: A Series of Sneaks". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on June 8, 2003. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  15. ^ "Spoon: A Series of Sneaks". Q (186): 122. January 2002.
  16. ^ Catucci, Nick (2004). "Spoon". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 770. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Peisner, David (June 4, 2002). "Spoon: A Series of Sneaks". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c [2]
  19. ^ "Stereogum".
  20. ^ [3]