Spoon | Transference

Merge (2010)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  January 13, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


Any year now, Spoon will release an album consisting of one 35-minute unfailing groove anchored by bass and peppered with erratic guitar-chord grunts and Britt Daniel's wordless exclamations ("Awright!") — an idealized endgame that distills the band's reductive technique to its purest state. Until then, Transference, the Austin band's seventh full-length, will serve as another whittling down of the singular æsthetic that has made them one of the most engaging American bands of the past decade.

Unlike their previous album, 2007's Top 10–charting Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Transference is deficient in the effervescence department, with lots of rigid vamps and minimal chord changes. I'll back the spacy "Who Makes Your Money" — not just because Daniel sings it "whomayshomaan," but because it adheres to the Guitars When Necessary rule. The tight interplay between guitar and bass on "Written in Reverse," an off-kilter rocker that channels late-period Elvis Costello, puts the emphasis on white-knuckled propulsion. And I'll excuse "I Saw the Light" for pilfering the kind of descending progression used in earlier songs "Don't Make Me a Target" and "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" because its blood is hot.

But from a band known for the sharp clockwork of their sequencing, Transference has a weird flow that gets weirder during a second half, in which we get a gestational piano ballad ("Goodnight Laura"), two utterly lackluster entries in the Spoon catalogue ("Out Go the Lights" and "Got Nuffin"), and a closer that, despite a barrage of tape loops, runs in place ("Nobody Gets Me But You"). Perhaps the thin, straight line that Spoon have hewed to for so long has finally become too thin, too straight.

Related: RJD2 | The Colossus, Laura Veirs | July Flame, Lightning strikes, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Elvis Costello,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BROWN BIRD | FITS OF REASON  |  March 18, 2013
    Brown Bird, a boundary-pushing Americana duo from Rhode Island, make music that touches upon that can't-put-my-finger-on-it amalgamation of past and future sounds.
  •   NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS | PUSH THE SKY AWAY  |  February 20, 2013
    Much like the similarly low-key The Boatman's Call , Cave's highly anticipated 15th album with the Bad Seeds manages the puzzling feat of making a great band seem inconsequential, if not entirely absent.
  •   SCOTT WALKER | BISH BOSCH  |  November 27, 2012
    Scott Walker's late-period about-face is one of the strangest in the annals of pop music.
    Bill Withers has always been the down-to-earth, odd-man-out of the '70s soul brothers: he's the one who came bearing a lunch box on the cover of his relaxed 1971 debut, Just as I Am .
  •   R.E.M. | DOCUMENT [25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION]  |  September 19, 2012
    Fans of R.E.M. enjoy arguing over which album was the band's true shark-jump, but 1987's Document was inarguably the end of a groundbreaking era.

 See all articles by: ZETH LUNDY