‘Transference’ | Spoon
For fans of: Vampire Weekend, OK Go
Tracks to download: ‘I Saw The Light,’ ‘Got Nuffin,’ ‘Written in Reverse’
Spoon, the indie-rock band best known for their irresistibly upbeat ode to the little man, “The Underdog,” has just released its seventh album, “Transference.” The album art, prominently featuring a young man languidly slumped in a large chair, has no thematic bearing on the quality of the album—Spoon just makes rocking look easy. This is not an album produced by slackers. Like always, Spoon delivers. Nor is it a drastic departure from Spoon’s previous style. This album has the same relentlessly manic heartbeat, guaranteed to induce more than a little head-bobbing and hip-shaking in all but hopeless killjoys and quadriplegics. This is a more organic-sounding album, though, reminiscent of garage rock. Following the critically drooled-over (deservedly so) 2007 album “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,” Spoon has stripped down to produce a raw work, without sacrificing anything in terms of quality. Like Brad Pitt.
A good number of songs on the album deal with somewhat heavy themes. “Written in Reverse” immediately references a hearse, which in the hands of a less competent band would sound like the brooding emo poetry of that weird goth kid you knew in high school. In Spoon’s hands, though, issues with love and emotional distance are conveyed with convincing emotion and attitude—there is no whining. “Nobody Gets Me But You” communicates alienation without descending into despair or self-pity. “Laura” is pretty and lulling but sad. There aren’t any songs that are particularly sunny. That said, the album is far from depressing or slow—every song is alive and kicking.
The drumbeats and guitar hooks on the album are undeniably catchy. The songs feel alive, filled with energy and verve. “Is Love Forever” pounds along, making it hard to resist tapping your foot in time with the drums. “Trouble Comes Running” just rocks. Starting off with a bit of bare-bones garage-rock guitar, the song soon explodes with an impassioned “Oh!” from Britt Daniel and an invigorating drumbeat. All of the musical components—drums, guitar, voice, piano—come together wonderfully. “Got Nuffin” begins with drumming, then layers on guitar, singing and eventually piano. It all comes together like a delicious rock ‘n’ roll cake. Each component is individually emphasized at times, then seamlessly brought back into the general amalgamation of music. In contrast to the other tracks, “Laura” contains a piano lullaby. Despite its lack of a drum part and its mournful notes, Laura moves along steadily. None of the songs lag; this is a consistently enjoyable work.
One of the best things about this album is Britt Daniel’s voice. It’s slightly rough, with a gripping emotional intensity. On “Written in Reverse,” he nearly wails some of the lyrics, delivering a bare intensity that many too-pretty song renditions lack. His singing feels real. His vocal variations add to the ever-interesting vibe. On “Who Makes Your Money,” there are moments when his voice is a bit distorted, as though it is being delivered through a fan. The effect is bitingly alien. Daniel also punctuates with “Oohs” and other little emotional embellishments, fitting well rather than sounding silly or melodramatic. On “Laura,” his humming blends soothingly with rest of the song, contributing to its dreamy feel.
“Transference” proves, as does Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” (and several other movies), that stripping down a bit can produce fantastic results. Fans of indie, rock, or good music in general will enjoy this album; Celine Dion devotees might not.