Austin-based rock outfit Spoon’s tenth studio album, Lucifer On The Sofa, was originally released through Matador Records in February 2022 to widespread critical acclaim. Though development of the album began in late 2018–following the conclusion of their tour promoting 2017’s Hot Thoughts–the COVID-19 pandemic would delay its release considerably. At the 65th annual Grammy Awards, it received a nomination in the category of Best Rock Album.

Lucifer On The Sofa saw Spoon working with a wide-ranging cast of acclaimed producers and engineers, including Mark Rankin (Queens Of The Stone Age, Adele), Justin Raisen (Charli XCX, Lil Yachty), and Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips)–each of whom would imprint their unique sonic signatures to the songs they worked on. This is perhaps most apparent in the grungy, crunchier tones of “On The Radio,” as that track was mixed by Andrew Scheps (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, etc). 

Rather than relying heavily on overdubbing and editing as they did for Hot Thoughts, the band instead opted to cut much of the album live at drummer Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi studio in Austin, Texas. The end result is simultaneously polished and raw, capturing all the unrefined energy of Spoon's live performances and presenting it with the sonic excellence of an expertly-crafted studio production. 

The dynamic range in particular is impressive for a modern rock album, with quiet moments like the intro to “Satellite” gradually building up to explosive crescendos. Right from the opening riff of “Held” all the way to the final decaying note of the title track, the album exudes unfiltered passion and punchy immediacy.

Lucifer On The Sofa also marks the band’s inaugural foray into the realm of immersive audio, with drummer Jim Eno overseeing the Dolby Atmos mix. Though Spoon was actively making music during the early-2000s heyday of the Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio formats, none of their albums from that era were made available in 5.1 surround sound.

Eno’s Public Hi-Fi facility now boasts a state-of-the-art Kali Audio immersive monitoring system, comprising seven IN-8 models at ear level and four IN-5s mounted overhead. In October 2022, Eno spoke to Mix Magazine about his approach to remixing Spoon’s music in Dolby Atmos.

“One of the things about spatial mixing that I really like is, when you go from verse to chorus, you can blow out the guitars wide and have this movement that’s a lot more than just left and right. I’m thinking specifically of ‘The Hardest Cut,’ which has a lot of big guitars. I can make them move out and then back in, and focus. Our philosophy is to stay true to the two-track mixes and to get some movement to add to the excitement of the mix, but we’re not panning vocals around or anything like that. You have to be really careful that it doesn’t sound like a bunch of disconnected instruments and parts. You have to try to develop a glue. I love mixing in stereo, but then you listen to an Atmos system, and, wow, you’re not as confined. It’s like the Wild West; it’s really fun right now.”

Though the Dolby Atmos mix of Lucifer On The Sofa has been available to stream since October 2022, we at IAA are thrilled to now offer the album as an exclusive immersive digital download through our online shop!

Some of the more-subtle elements in the rear surround speakers, such as the vocal reverb and low-level droning synth(?) seem to expose limitations within the 768 kbps Dolby Digital Plus/JOC codec used for immersive streaming. As shown in the short samples below (rear channels only), the detail and clarity is much better preserved for home listeners with lossless Dolby TrueHD.

Dolby TrueHD (IAA Digital Download)

Dolby Digital+/JOC (Streaming)

"Held” serves as a powerful opener, setting the tone for the album with its punchy guitars and relentless rhythm. The song actually begins with the sounds of the band tuning up, further immersing the listener in the album’s no-frills live-in-the-studio concept. Britt Daniel’s vocals are almost completely isolated in the center speaker, while Eno’s drums extend from the front channels up into the height array.

Handclaps percolate from the rear surrounds for “The Hardest Cut,” with the rhythm guitars emanating mostly from above. Daniel’s vocal shifts to the 'phantom' front center position for this track, lifted up a bit into the top array. During the chorus, double-tracked vocals pop out of the rear height speakers to great effect.

From there, we transition into the very retro-sounding “The Devil & Mister Jones.” Horns burst from the rears, while the jangly guitar riffs sit mostly in the side speakers. "Wild" (co-written by Jack Antonoff) makes for another highlight, with its crunchy rhythm guitars and soaring anthemic chorus translating perfectly to the immersive experience. Britt Daniel's vocals continue to shine throughout the album, delivering each lyric with his trademark blend of power and vulnerability.

"On The Radio" kicks off with piano over your left shoulder and distorted keys off to the right, both lifted into the height speakers. Guitars fill in from the side surrounds, while the lead vocals interestingly return to the center speaker at around the two-minute mark. “Astral Jacket”–my personal favorite track on the album–shows off the band’s softer side, offering a contemplative break from the album's more-frenetic heavier moments. Percussion and acoustic guitars again surround the listeners, while the drone-like background vocals glide overhead.

This high-resolution digital immersive release of Lucifer On The Sofa marks the beginning of an exciting new collaboration between IAA and Beggars Group, one of the world's largest and most-respected independent label groups. Beggars Group is home to 4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade, XL Recordings and Young, as well as a growing publishing wing (Beggars Music) and a successful catalog imprint (Beggars Arkive).

Many new album releases from Beggars Group are already available to stream in Dolby Atmos, including key titles from landmark artists such as Queens Of The Stone Age, The National, FKA Twigs, Water From Your Eyes, The Libertines, and more. Over the coming months, we hope to gradually make this fantastic immersive catalog available in hi-res downloadable form.

Purchase Lucifer On The Sofa in the IAA Shop!

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and is currently enrolled in a Master’s Program in Audio Technology.