Bands we miss: Spoons

In honour of Canada Day (and for the uninitiated, what July 4th is to the ‘mericans, Canada Day – July 1 – is to Canadians) we look back at a once great electronic new wave Canadian band that never saw a whole lot of attention outside the country but in its day was right up there with the bigs of the genre in their own way.

Spoons at their 1982/83 peak were a four piece new wave-influenced synthpop band led by singer Gordon Deppe and bassist Sandy Horne. It was keyboard player Rob Preuss (15 when he joined the band) that gave them much of their most notable sound. The albums recorded with Preuss were among the best of their day.

Their big breakthrough was 1982’s Arias & Symphonies, which included the terrific “Nova Heart”, which interestingly remains in active rotation on the Softsynth iPod nearly 30 years (!!!) since its release. What was interesting about this period  – which also includes 1983 album, Talkback and its shining moment “Old Emotions” (the video for which was responsible for a huge crush by a much younger version of this writer on the lovely Ms. Horne) – was the circles in which they travelled were heady. They worked in the studio with Nile Rogers and Daniel Lanois; they recorded videos at a time when they were just beginning to become ubiquitous and they made really high quality ones that rivaled anything played by the leading acts of the day on MTV (while being equal parts cheesy, pretentious and abstract…much like everything else on MTV in the day); they opened for Simple Minds, O.M.D., Culture Club and even the Police. They knew how to play the game. They knew a look was so important to bands of the era and they cultivated a compelling era-appropriate one, but above all they recorded wonderful, beautifully constructed electronic pop music that sounds both of its time and oddly fresh today (we hear a similar sound from Mirrors today). You may not have heard of this band, even if you are of a certain vintage, but they deserved their place among the bands we think of when we hark back to the golden age of electronic music.

By the mid 80s they switched their sound to a more commercial, conventional rock sound, which netted a couple of their biggest hits (“Tell No Lies”, “Romantic Traffic”) but became almost cartoonishly clichéd when Preuss left the band in 1985. Their post-Preuss sound was greeted with a yawn and the band fell to pieces but for the nostalgia circuit (while Preuss unfortunately drifted to quintessential 80s Canadian hair band Honeymoon Suite for a time). They actually released their first new album in 22 years earlier in ’11, Static in Transmission, which does have a couple of nice moments like “Numb” and “Imperfekt” but still doesn’t really hold a candle to those terrific albums from 82/83. They do seem to be somewhat in touch with their roots on some tracks which is comforting and makes us miss them a little less, but for the awesome packet of music from early on miss them we still do…

Watch: Nova Heart

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One Response to “Bands we miss: Spoons”

  1. robpreuss Says:

    hey softsynth~
    thanks for your kind words..
    i’m happy to hear that you’re still
    listening, after all these years…..!!!
    it was definitely an inspired,
    creative time for us.
    : )
    rob preuss

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