Of course, a back-to-basics approach is one thing, and then there's writing great songs. Gritty-voiced Daniel (who sounds like a cross between early Elvis Costello and Ray Davies) basks in the light of the rock muse: Since the release of Spoon's debut Series of Sneaks, he's hardly sounded a false note, and every album between Sneaks and Kill the Moonlight contains at least one song -- usually more -- that's so damn good, it practically melts your mind.
Meantime, Daniel's stripped down his always-spare sound to the point where, on Kill the Moonlight, you can't locate even a single extraneous tambourine echo. There's more instrumental and production variety than meets the ear, but his songs are the musical equivalent of sharpened knives. And in concert, Spoon slays.