Monday, February 15, 2010

New Music Monday: Spoon-Transference

There are no mariachi horns on Spoon's 7th proper release. If you like mariachi horns, and their irresistible gravitational pull on "The Underdog", you're out of luck.

For the past decade, Spoon has become the most economical band of the new millennium, the Chevy Cavalier of bands. The formula: Get a good Jim Eno back beat, work with it, add in some sound effects that might not finish when they should, throw in as little chord progressions as possible and let the thing roll. Spoon has never given you a chorus that you're going to scream at the top of your lungs at a huge sold out arena, they are way too cool for that, and if you buy into that cool, you get Spoon. They've always been that rare band where you DON'T want them to shake things up too much. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

The formula stays the same on "Transference". If anything's changed, it's the replacement of a more polished sound from their 2007 release "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" with a bit of a more enigmatic feel. Like in the "Mystery Zone" where you "Can make up a house some faraway town where nobody will know the Mystery Zone." After the chorus, there's an alluring bit out of the twilight zone. At the song's abrupt stop, you're still stuck in some mystery zone with "Who Makes Your Money". A slurring keyboard, stutter drumming, and echo voices leaves you feeling like you've just had that 5th drink, not enough to be incoherent, but enough to be talking a little out of sync muttering "Who Makes Your Money?". That's the Spoon I love.

"Trouble Comes Running" sounds like the lost Guided By Voices track you've been yearning to hear with Brit Daniel reminding you "trouble's where the kicks are". It's fantastic as is, overproduction would have ruined it.

Their latest single "Written in Reverse" rolls on a great piano bit. I can't remember Daniel sounding this seething before "I'm not standing here" or animated "Somebody better call a hearse" then insert Nelly woo-hoo after. Another standout is "Got Nuffin": "I've got Nuffin to lose but bitterness and patterns", it's like Daniel is proclaiming he's gonna step out of the simple chord repetition, but you know he's not gonna do it, he'll just add a great Bernard Sumner like guitar bit instead.

"Transference" does have its faults and, unfortunately, there's a couple gripes more than on their past few albums. The second part of "I Saw The Light" comes off as background music to the closing credits of an 80's after school special, "Goodnight Lauara" may be the one spot on the album that would have benefited from a little more thought, and "Out Go The Lights" just simply falls flat.

But to the plus side, Daniel's vulnerability is valiant. Trying to hold on that last thread of something, that love that's no more. He wants to know "Is Love Forever?" and anytime anyone asks "Are you quite certain love?", you've pretty much got your answer. I've always been drawn in to these guys for their less is more grooves but this is the first time I appreciate the conviction of Daniel's lyrics. Well done.

There's a lot to love about "Transference", but when it comes down to it, I'll probaly recommend "Kill The Moonlight, "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" or my personal favorite "Gimme Fiction" before it. Maybe that will change ten years from now, maybe in my middle age I'll need to visit the Mystery Zone to get to the heart of Spoon. For now I'll say "I turn my camera on!"

Grade: A-
Recommended For: Anyone who still believes that "Less is more"

Spoon-Transference (On MySpace)

JHO Picks:
The Mystery Zone
Who Makes Your Money
Written In Reverse
Trouble Comes Running
Got Nuffin'

1 comment:

  1. Good Post. I just got this album and haven't give it the proper listen.