Kill the Moonlight (album)

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Kill the Moonlight
Kill the Moonlight.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 20, 2002
RecordedJanuary–March 2002
LabelMerge Records
Spoon chronology
Girls Can Tell
Kill the Moonlight
Gimme Fiction

Kill the Moonlight is the fourth album by the rock band Spoon, released on August 20, 2002. The album features a stripped-down, minimal sound that incorporates various different instruments such as tambourines and pianos along with an idiosyncratic production style. The album has gone on to receive critical acclaim with its lead single "The Way We Get By" being used in various television shows, and is nowadays widely regarded as Spoon's magnum opus.[3][4]


On the first couple of albums, I thought the idea of having piano was very embarrassing. It didn’t seem like something Wire would do; it didn’t seem cool [...] But that was just our very limited frame of mind… We started realizing there’s nothing not cool about Marvin Gaye, there’s nothing not cool about Plastic Ono Band, and there’s piano all over those things, so why not fucking loosen up a little bit?

Britt Daniel[5]

The album has been noted for its minimal and rhythm-driven sound. Eric Carr of Pitchfork described it as "an adventure in starkness", going on to write: "Like some of the best minimalists in music, Spoon use the null and void to create tension which bolsters and sets apart every nuance of the music-- every handclap, every reverberating crash, every beep from the synthesizer."[6] Heather Phares of AllMusic wrote that the group "follow(ed up) such a cathartic album as Girls Can Tell with a collection of tougher, leaner, and meaner songs like "All the Pretty Girls Go to the City," which sounds like the inverse of Girls' "Everything Hits at Once"".[7] Daniel Pike of BBC found the album to be "terribly, terribly British" in sound, characterizing it as a "distinctly lo-fi post-punk offering" and noting "an air of tenderness and sincerity about" it.[8] Tom Breihan of Stereogum noted elements of "toothy Wire minimalism, mid-period Motown strut, Kinks-y melodic twinkle" in the album's sound, even going on to suggest the influence of Timbaland "since (his music) brought the same sense that empty space was a virtue, that a perfectly-placed sound-effect could be the most memorable part of a song".[9]

The opener "Small Stakes" features "Steve Nieve-style keyboards and (a) shoutout to Har Mar Superstar" with lyrics "alluding to class concerns".[10] "The Way We Get By", the lead single from the album, is "built on a rollicking piano line and handclaps" with lyrics that "had its roots in the (Daniel)’s more recent memories of scraping together enough cash to go to shows, alter his mind and find salvation in Iggy Pop". In an interview with Pitchfork, Daniel revealed that the song initially started out as "off-the-cuff" before turning into "a glorified, fucked-up-relationship song about a scrappy couple getting high in the backseat, making love with the song ‘Some Weird Sin,’ seeking out people that don’t speak very much [...]".[5] The aforementioned BBC article noted "shades of Tim Burgess falsetto on "Something To Look Forward To" and "Stay Don't Go"".[8] The former has been described by the Stereogum article as a "nicely knotty, a too-short spurt of sass" whilst the latter track "sports a human beatbox rhythm"[7] or "just a guy breathing funny",[9] the music on top of it described as being "made up of Depeche Mode type flourishes and Prince meets Bowie vocals"[11] The song "Jonathon Fisk" is based on a bullying middle school classmate of the songwriter Britt Daniel.[12] According to Daniel, "Fisk" is now a fan of the band, and "came to all of [Spoon's] shows for about two or three years".[12] It has been musically described as being "more punk-ish but still relatively spare, even when a saxophone surfaces".[9] "Paper Tiger" has been singled out by many critics as being the album's best track, Tiny Mix Tapes describing it as "a minimalist ditty [...] With orchestral swells, reversed effects, rim clicks, piano chords, and a haunting vocal melody".[13] Doug Wallen of PopMatters wrote that the song breathed "sweet new life into classic love-song fodder -- "I'm not dumb / Just want to hold your hand" and "I will be there with you when you turn out the light"".[10]

"Someone Something" features a heavy Elvis Costello influence (of whom Daniel is an "ardent admirer"[8]), Delusions of Adequacy describing it as " jump(ing) and hop(ing) along [...] a neat piano and nicely placed drum fills".[14] The following track "Don't Let It Get You Down" too has piano "but also with newfound bluesy twang",[10] the intro described as "part Stones and part Elvis Costello".[11] "All The Pretty Girls Go To The City" has been described as "another fun song highlighted by good piano work that mimics the vocal lines".[14] The PopMatters article writes that the song is "haunted by brooding keys and, finally, lush instrumentation, like a Motown 45 transmitted from the wrong side of the tracks.[10] "You Gotta Feel It" has been described as "eternally bluesy"[10] and features "distant backing vocals and baritone saxes".[7] "Back To The Life" features a tambourine and handclaps that "come in at the exact right moments".[9] The song "opens with a demented cackle, then laying on heavy rhythmic sampling and melodic trickery".[10] The closing track "Vittorio E" has been described as "an undulating, vaguely psychedelic ballad"[7] and an "anti-ballad",[10] the aforementioned Pitchfork article describing it as "a 3-minute synopsis of the album's emotional heft".


Released on August 20, 2002 through Merge Records,[15] Kill the Moonlight had sold roughly 153,000 copies up to December 2009, according to Nielsen Soundscan.[16]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[17]
Blender4/5 stars[18]
Entertainment WeeklyA[19]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[20]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[23]
Uncut4/5 stars[24]
The Village VoiceA[25]

The album received "universal critical acclaim" upon release,[15] with many critics and fans alike later on considering it to be one of Spoon's best albums.[9][26]


The album received end-of-year accolades from a variety of publications in both the US and the UK, continuing to receive end-of-decade ones as well after it came to an end. The majority of the latter, as shown below, came from US publications. According to Acclaimed Music, as of August 2018, the album is the 63rd most acclaimed album of the decade and the 643rd most acclaimed album of all time.[27]

Publication Country Accolade Rank
Blender US 100 Greatest Indie Albums 49[28]
Rhapsody US Alt/Indie’s Best Albums of the Decade 5[29]
Pitchfork US 200 Greatest Albums of the '00s 19[30]
Rolling Stone US 100 Best Albums of the Decade 51[31]
Michigan Daily US Top 50 Albums of the New Millennium 13[32]
The A.V. Club US The best music of the decade 15[33]
Music Underwater US Top 100 Albums 1990-2003 43[34]
Paste US The best albums of the decade 12[35]
Slant US 100 Best Albums of the Aughts 26[36]
Consequence of Sound US Top Albums of the 2000s 57[37]
Spin US 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985-2014) 163[38]
Cokemachineglow Canada Top 100 Albums of the 2000s 16[39]
Pure Pop Mexico The 25 Best Albums Since Kurt Cobain Left Us (2003) 10[40]

In Popular Culture[edit]

"The Way We Get By" was used on the television shows The O.C., Shameless and Hustle as well as in the films Mean Creek, The Puffy Chair and Stranger Than Fiction. "Don't Let It Get You Down" can be heard in the 2005 comedy Waiting....

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Britt Daniel except where noted..

1."Small Stakes"3:00
2."The Way We Get By"2:38
3."Something to Look Forward To" (Daniel, Miles Zuniga)2:17
4."Stay Don't Go"3:35
5."Jonathon Fisk"3:15
6."Paper Tiger"3:07
7."Someone Something"2:48
8."Don't Let It Get You Down" (Daniel, Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Deke Richards)3:29
9."All the Pretty Girls Go to the City"3:12
10."You Gotta Feel It"1:29
11."Back to the Life"2:21
12."Vittorio E."3:39
Total length:34:50



Additional personnel

  • Eggo Johanson – keyboards, piano, tambourine
  • Roman Kuebler – bass guitar
  • Mike McCarthy – 12 string guitar
  • Brad Shenfield – dabouke
  • Mike Clayton – bass guitar
  • Matt Brown – saxophone


The album peaked at number 23 on the US Independent album charts.

Year Chart Position
2002 Billboard Top Independent Albums 23


  1. ^ a b Hoard, Christian (September 2002). "Spoon, 'Kill the Moonlight' (Merge)". Spin. 18 (9). Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  2. ^ "Spoon Kill the Moonlight". Exclaim!. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
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  10. ^ a b c d e f g [8]
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  12. ^ a b Lorelei Sharkey, "Playing Spoon",
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  14. ^ a b [11]
  15. ^ a b c "Reviews for Kill The Moonlight by Spoon". Metacritic. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
  16. ^ Billboard - Google Boeken. 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  17. ^ Phares, Heather. "Kill the Moonlight – Spoon". AllMusic. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  18. ^ Eliot, Ryan (September 2002). "Spoon: Kill the Moonlight". Blender (9): 155. Archived from the original on April 28, 2004. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Hermes, Will (August 16, 2002). "Kill the Moonlight". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  20. ^ Bronson, Kevin (August 18, 2002). "An Unpoetic Start to the Revolution". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  21. ^ "Spoon: Kill the Moonlight". NME: 38. September 21, 2002.
  22. ^ Carr, Eric (August 14, 2002). "Spoon: Kill the Moonlight". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  23. ^ Eliscu, Jenny (September 5, 2002). "Spoon: Kill The Moonlight". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  24. ^ "Spoon: Kill the Moonlight". Uncut (65): 120. October 2002.
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 10, 2002). "Consumer Guide: A Very Good Year". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  26. ^ [12]
  27. ^ [13]
  28. ^ Blender picks the best 100 indie rock albums ever
  29. ^ "Alt/Indie’s Best Albums of the Decade" Archived 2009-12-16 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  30. ^ [14]
  31. ^ Rolling Stone (2011-07-19). "Introducing Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the 2000s | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
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