Canadian pop-rock legends The Spoons are back with their first new album in nearly eight years and their seventh overall with the release of New Day New World, an exceptional collection of electro-pop songs that adroitly bridge the gap between the sound and style that made the band famous in the early 1980s with an updated and refreshing sense of modernity and maturity.
It marks a bold statement from a band that has created some of the more iconic Canadian pop songs, many of which, such as Tell No Lies, Old Emotions, Nova Heart, Smiling in Winter, Arias & Symphonies, When Time Turns Around and Romantic Traffic, are still played today in regular rotation on many radio stations. Anchored by the duo of Gordon Deppe (primary songwriter, lead vocals, lead guitar) and bassist/vocalist Sandy Horne, the band was a fixture on radio and video channels throughout the 1980s.
New Day New World sounds like The Spoons, but with a contemporary feel. With Deppe’s distinctive voice, Horne’s bass stylings and ethereal background (and occasional lead) vocals, with their sweeping distinctive analog sounding keyboards, there is a comforting vibe of the familiar, enmeshed with more of a 21st century wisdom, borne out of the obvious fact that Horne, Deppe and fellow Spoons members Casey MQ and Chris McNeill are not the same people they were 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years ago.
“There’s kind of a fine line in not being stuck in a nostalgic rut but still making sure from the moment you put it out people go, ‘oh yeah, that’s The Spoons.’ I know if we would work on something and we would just try to go off on a completely different tangent I would sense it and say, ‘oh maybe not.’ It may be cool, but you’ve got to retain the familiar elements so it doesn’t sound like it could possibly be someone else,” Deppe said.
“And I don’t know how it is that we are able to do that. I guess it’s because we have been making records for so long that whatever we do those elements that make us who we are rub off and come through. And that’s the first thing people are saying about this new record – it sounds more current but it’s still us. I have no idea how that happens. I think it helps that I am into new music and not stuck in the 1980s at all. I like brand new things and what people are doing. I don’t like all of it, but there’s enough to keep me inspired.”
In terms of the writing process, Deppe said it hasn’t changed much for him since the band’s formation back in the late 1970s.
“I really don’t know anything about recording, and I have tried to learn. I actually really don’t like the recording process. I always want somebody else to worry about all the technicalities. I just put ideas down these days on my iPhone and that’s as far as I take it. And then I try them out in the studio. I go in and tell Jeff Carter, who was working on the production and mixing to put down a basic beat and then I will lay down the chords on top and we will take it from there. I don’t go into the studio with anything further than a rough sketch and then we fill it in there as people add their parts to it,” he explained.
“I have a lot in my head, but I can’t get it all down. I find it easier to work by just getting it all down quickly. It’s like writing a book, if you’re thinking about every piece of grammar and punctuation as you go, it will take you years. For me, I just throw it down quickly and roughly and then go back and fine tune it later.
“Sometimes the other guys in the band will work on parts while we’re there, but sometimes I will just leave it and say, ‘Sandy just go to town and do your thing.’ And most of the time I come back and it’s great. We’ve worked together long enough that we know what each other likes. And sometimes if something goes a little too far, I may say, ‘you know that sounds very cool, but it’s not us.”
There is a sense of upbeat positivity that permeates New Day New World, but it is a mature positivity – one coming from the mind and spirit of someone who has endured the slings and arrows of life and come through on the other side a better person for the experiences, and someone who sees that there is hope for the world – although it is a hard-earned hope.
“I sort of compare the tone of this album to the Romantic Traffic, Tell No Lies days, whereas the last record, Static In Transmission was coming from a little darker time in my life. It was a bit more angst ridden and focused on the lack of communication between people. This new album is more summery and fun, and it’s because my personal life is so wonderful now. It’s sort of aligned to the point of how can I, 40 years into my career, be happier and busier than I have been in decades?” Deppe said.
“And the timing of the album really was that I had enough of these songs with sort of the same tone and theme to put out an album. It wasn’t like there was this great big decision to do a new album. It’s different these days; unlike the 1980s where we were under the gun by the record label to do a new album every two years or whatever. Now it’s like when the time comes that you have enough songs you say, okay. That’s why it took almost eight years because we weren’t on a schedule. You go with it when you realize that you suddenly have 10 or so songs on your hands that feel good.
“After our last album, Static In Transmission in 2011, we thought that would be it. There was now way, I thought, we would get another bunch of songs together. But it’s funny how things work out. You go through life and have new experiences and all of a sudden you have whole new perspective on things and that gives you something to write about.”
Deppe said the album title New Day New World came later in the game and was inspired as much by a visual as by anything musically thematic.
“It really wasn’t the title track until I saw the cover art actually. It was just one of the songs on the album, even though I thought it might be the closing one for the album. And then when I saw the artwork, I thought it fit that song and the theme of the album. Someone goes through something in their life and they come out the other end. It was almost like a cliché for me – too simple, I thought about New Day New World. But once I saw how everyone was reacting to it, I thought about it and, yes, that’s kind of what the album is about,” he said.
“The cover is almost kind of Pink Floyd-like. And on the first pressing there was a flaw where it came out too dark, and for the next one they’re going to correct it. But in a way it was kind of perfect; you have a sunset version and sunrise version, like the beginning and the end. And that’s a theme to a lot of our stuff. If you think back to [1981’s] Stick Figure Neighbourhood album, there is a beginning and end. That album was inspired by a British TV show called The Prisoner. I always like the beginning of something and the end of something, and then in between you have this journey that is the album. That sounds a little corny, but I always try to arrange the order of the songs and the lyrics to kind of begin somewhere, and it can be a really simple outlook on the world but by the end, you have different view of things.”
Life On Demand and Love Recall are sort of similar songs in that they look at how technology and the immediacy and freneticism pace of modern life has begun to change the way we interact with one another and how relationships are actually constructed and experienced.
“Life On Demand kind of says it all. People want things at the push of a button and it’s an everyday thing. I see that especially having a son and with kids today and how completely different it is from our generation. Now, you can get anything immediately, even love. And the other half of that equation is Love Recall. First of all, it wasn’t meant to be super serious; it was more tongue-in-cheek as to how everything is not only immediate, but also disposable. If it’s not good enough, let’s recall it. Let’s recall love. Nothing is set in stone as it used to be,” said Deppe, who also spoke of his use of imagery to convey meaning in the song Snowglobes, one of the most effervescent and delightful tracks on the album.
“I’ve always loved imagery. Like with Romantic Traffic, all the little metaphors about passing each other. In this case I kind of had this image of the snow globe as your soul or your life and how it’s filled with this sort of cloudiness at the beginning. At the beginning of the song it starts with an empty snow glob and the person fills it up with something. I just thought it was a great image to describe your life and episodes in your life and relationships. It gets shaken and everything can either looked all messed up or spectacular, but in both cases, it eventually settles down again.”
With his time split between his work with A Flock of Seagulls, for which he has been the lead guitarist since 2017, and The Spoons, Deppe said he is as busy as he’s ever been in his life and wouldn’t have it any other way. It does make for a challenge to pull together dates for The Spoons, but he said things are coming together for dates throughout the summer, fall and beyond.
“It’s basically the same as it’s been for a couple of years. I am doing the same tour as I did last year with Flock throughout the U.S. and the same sorts of summer festivals with the Spoons as we did last year. It will work out and we can do it. I would rather be too busy than not busy enough. And, honestly, I never thought at this point in my life I would be so busy,” he said.
For more information on The Spoons, New Day New World and upcoming shows, visit www.spoonsmusic.com.
- Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for a quarter of a century. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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