Spoon - Transference
Record Label: Merge
Release Date: January 19, 2010
In the past decade, Spoon has released five full-lengths and three EPs on Merge Records. So big deal; another indie-label release right? Wrong. No producer, no outside feedback. Just pure, unadulterated Spoon. According to Merge Records, five of the tracks on 2010's Transference are the original demos. 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga gleaned praise from Billboard, as well as international critiques; now, Spoon may finally relinquish the title "Underdog" and be seen for what they really are.
The first half of the record blends together in a turbid sort of way. The raw, introductory "Before Destruction" paves the way as a fantastic opener. Drawing comparisons to The Pixies, this song takes you back to the band's earlier work (Girls Can Tell). "Is Love Forever?" is much too short—ending mid-note, just over two minutes—and invites memories of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life." The spirit of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga lives in the native sound of "Mystery Zone," a simple, albeit ambient, score about an imaginary universe where no one knows who you are. Watch out for the abrupt ending, though; it's quite the cliffhanger. Perhaps the scariest track to ever make a Spoon album, "Who Makes Your Money" puts an interesting spin on 70s soul, overlain with deep, muted guitar.
Lead singer Britt Daniel's voice falls short only to the lyrical genius on the piano pounding that is "Written in Reverse." Straight garage rock with chaotic fusions of distorted guitar and angry keys—the crescendo never peaks. Try to imagine Tom Waits covering Phish's "Bathtub Gin." Another religious experience is documented in the album's longest track, "I Saw The Light." Overlaying vocals in the trademark style, Spoon suddenly cops out for about three minutes of blues piano and electric guitar. Another abrupt ending—you'd think we'd be used to this by now—that left me totally shocked. Up to this point, the album remains true; there is no focus or real pattern—just songs that Spoon want to play. Enter "Trouble Comes Running," possibly the most radio-friendly track on the record. Fun, rhythmic and relatable, Daniel tells the ironic story of a care-free day turned sour thanks to a "heavenly host" (aka a beautiful girl).
"Goodnight Laura" is a short lullaby with piano and strings. The reassurance in Daniel's final words ("you're alright, you're alright") serves as a closing statement without ever really... closing? The track ends too-quickly, and ruins any potential the song had for a sappy mix tape. I feel like Laura was done a slight disservice, and would love to hear the rest of the two and a half minute tribute. The blues guitar on "Out Go The Lights" is incredible and constant. The song is strangely romantic, with a heavy bass line and distant snare drums. More emo than indie, this track may surprise you. Don't skip over it.
Already featured on NBC's Chuck, "Got Nuffin'" is reaping more press than any other track on the record. Delusions of grandeur or true freedom? The bass pushes the song at just under four minutes and, of course, fades out much too fast. The album appropriately ends with "Nobody Gets Me But You," a creepy funk outro with distant sounds played backwards.
I feel that Transference takes the listener on a ridiculous thrill ride, without ever stopping to enjoy the scenery. Daniel's vocals were just as expected—fabulous—and the lyrics matched the tone of each song. For me, the album peaked at "Trouble Comes Running." If you like long pauses and sudden endings, you'll find one in almost every song; either there are no bridges or the entire album is one. Other favorites included "The Mystery Zone," "Out Go The Lights," and "Got Nuffin'." Making it past the true grit may be your biggest difficulty, but if you can accept Spoon for what they are—and indie rock band—this album will be a smart purchase. Transference is much more than filler. Three years after Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga—undoubtedly, Spoon's most monumental album—the band's lower tone won me over in forty-three minutes.
Okay, you should have someone that knows something about rock and roll write reviews for actual bands. "According to Merge Records"...blah blah blah. Seriously? Dudes are one of the best and most respected bands in the past 15 years. Next time find someone that doesn't have to read a 1 paragraph bio to fill in information on such an important band/record. 73% huh? I'm sure "bands" like All Time Low and Fall Out Boy scored way higher than that on your scale. I call BS.
I'm trying to find out where the first religious experience is that warrants you write "another religious experience" in describing I Saw The Light which I personally think is about a sexual experience than a religious one. I think Spoon's music is a little too mature for you. Have you listened to any of their past albums? Do you listen to similar indie rock?