Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was the album that made me like Spoon. But Seattle made me love the Austin indie-rock band. Which, without context, probably doesn't make much sense.
Let me explain.
I came to Seattle from the Tampa Bay area for a fresh start—for love and nature and music and legal weed, because I wanted to feel inspired and challenged, because I needed to live in a city among people I could actually relate to. But I misjudged just how hard it would be to leave a place where I'd spent most of my life, parents who'd never been farther than a 20-minute car ride away, friends I'd spent decades acquiring, a writing gig I'd had for more than a dozen years covering a music scene that became dear to me. Even if it was the very monotony of all these things that drove me out, I had trouble fighting feelings of isolation once I was actually living in Seattle. I couldn't avoid wondering whether I'd made a mistake leaving it all behind.
I hadn't realized how much my self-confidence was tied to how comfortable I felt in my well-known, unchanging reality. The city that had captivated me in numerous visits became big and daunting and cold to me as a resident, the people seemed aloof—or maybe I wasn't as good at befriending strangers as I assumed, I was unemployed for the first time since age 15 (and had fewer prospects than I hoped), and the creative well I expected to overflow once I arrived was frustratingly dry. I didn't feel lost, exactly, but the longer I spent in this state of seeming suspension, the more timid and pathetic and out of sorts I felt.
I listened to a lot of Pandora while roaming and brooding—and for some reason, it was the breezy, bouncing groove of Spoon's "Don't You Evah" that sliced through the miasma of my own dark thoughts. "Bet you got it all planned right/Bet you never worry/Never even feel a fright," Britt Daniel sang snottily, as if mocking me, his vocals warm and sandbur-scratchy. I paused, remembered Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga—the album that made Spoon indie-rock famous (and was celebrated with a 10th-anniversary reissue in October). The height of my like for them came after their sixth ear-wormy LP, but I didn't have any real attachment to it or to Spoon up until that moment, when an upwelling of love and appreciation hit me like a ton of bricks and abruptly lightened my mood.
I retrieved Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga from an old flash drive and spent the next week listening to it on repeat as I wandered. The bouncing, grooving rhythms got my arms swinging and transformed trudges into strides, songs took on new meaning, lyrics becoming pointed and speaking to my situation, or providing cheer, drive, an easing of spiritual tension, like: "Come loosen up/So hung up/Come count them ways to forever" ("Rhythm & Soul"), or "Somehow this place tastes just like an attack/A hundred-yard stare of a kiss" ("Finer Feelings"), or "I want to forget how conviction fits, but can I get out from under it? Can I get it out of me?" ("The Underdog"). I was chanting choruses like they were mantras ("Don't make me a target" was a favorite).
It lasted all of a week, but that was all it took to lift the funk. Spoon helped me start to find my Seattle legs.