Song of the Day: “No Bullets Spent”

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Happy Monday LemonWire readers. This week, we’ll be looking at songs from the upcoming release of Spoon’s Greatest Hits album called “Everything Hits at Once”. The album is set to be released later this month on July 26. Along with the release announcement, Spoon recently dropped the new single, “No Bullets Spent”, which we’ll look at today.

After the release of their Greatest Hits album, Spoon will be going on tour later this year with Beck and Cage the Elephant. You can find those tour dates on the band’s website here.

As always, we’ll look at a brief overview of Spoon before moving on to an analysis of our song of the day. Then, we’ll dip into the lyrics to “No Bullets Spent”, and see if we can’t parse the song’s meaning from them.

Spoon

Spoon is an American rock band that formed in Austin, Texas in the early ’90s with members Britt Daniel and Jim Eno. They released their first recording, “Nefarious” as an EP in 1994, going on to sign with Matador Records the following year. Spoon’s first full length LP, “Telephono” was released in 1996 to mixed reviews for its punkish flavor.

Things changed for Spoon after they signed on to Elektra Records in 1998, and were then dropped when their album, “A Series of Sneaks” didn’t sell well enough. Between 2000 and 2005, Spoon finally broke through to commercial success. They found a home with Merge Records, and released album after album, culminating with “Gimme Fiction” in 2005, which debuted at No. 44 on the Billboard 200.

Spoon saw even more success with their 2007 LP “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”, which hit No. 10 on the Billboard 200. The albums “Transference” and “They Want My Soul” saw similar success. Then, in 2017, Spoon came back to Matador Records for “Hot Thoughts”, their most recent album to date.

Spoon’s music has been featured in a number of movies and television shows over the years. From Scrubs and Veronica Mars, to The Simpsons and “I Love You, Man”. They’re one of those bands that most people have heard at one point or another, even if they didn’t know it at the time.

No Bullets Spent

While Spoon is a band that has sat comfortably in the indie rock scene, they’ve never been afraid to experiment with more psychedelic sounds, and “No Bullets Spent” is no exception. The song opens with a wavering guitar soaked in reverb, tremolo, and flange, and Britt Daniel’s voice compressed and filtered.

But it doesn’t take long for “No Bullets Spent” to bring the song back to more familiar territory. Britt Daniel’s affective crooning accompanies a bouncy chord progression over a minimal drum beat, reassuring fans that the band still knows how to deliver on expectations.

While they can still deliver the familiar, Spoon continues to demonstrate that they aren’t afraid to go into more uncharted territory. The lead guitar takes that role on “No Bullets Spent”, with excessive distortion and dissonance that makes it almost sound like the electronic blips and frills you might here on something from Ratatat.

Lyrics

When looking at the lyrics to “No Bullets Spent”, it’s hard not to read into it through a political lens. With references to war, a “master”, and escaping from a mess, Spoon seems to have their finger on the pulse of the current political climate with “No Bullets Spent”.

But let’s see for ourselves, and make our own judgments after a closer look at the first verse.

“The master returns
There’s always some kind of war
And counting his steps
You know it’s him at the door
You picture yourself
A star in the furthest sky
Escape from the mess
It’s gone when you close your eyes”

Now, while the language here is vague enough to hold true to a number of different situations, what it mainly conveys is a sense of powerlessness, and a longing for escape.

The chorus to “No Bullets Spent” reveals the answer that will solve the problem.

“What we need now’s an accident
No one to blame and no bullets spent
All we need now’s an accident
No one to blame and no bullets spent, oh”

It shouldn’t take an English Major to read between the lines here. Obviously, the “accident” refers to a random act that will remove the master causing all the distress in the first verse. Something like, a piano falling on him as he walks out the door, or choking on a particularly pointy tortilla chip.

Ultimately, the lyrics to “No Bullets Spent” are a bit unrealistic. They reveal, if anything, a determination to hold onto hope, even when there doesn’t seem to be any left. Considering the state of the world today, it’s a message that I imagine many could find solace in.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another song from Spoon’s upcoming album.

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