The Spinners

The Master Spinner Spins: Transference (Spoon, 2010)

In Alternative Rock, American, Indie Rock, The Master Spinner Spins on February 4, 2010 at 6:57 am

If there is one trait that Spoon excel at, it is the non-exceptional quality of their albums; which, if paradox may be allowed, what actually makes them exceptional, and what makes their songs live up to numerous listenings. When one listens to their early records, the freshness of the beats and the catchiness of the hooks are still there, their trademark touch never lost. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, in particular, is a tough act to follow, but Transference, the band’s seventh album in fifteen years, continues the uniquely spartan intensity that Spoon are known for, again not exceptional, but never and not even a bit disappointing at all.

Come to think of it, same things can be said to any of Spoon’s records; and same things can be argued as well. The rawness is impossible not to notice, how, without flagging itself, it owns every track, how it strips and reveals the wisdom of its words (I grew up in a supermarket / It was there they told me / If they can’t find me they won’t leave / Without me now or ever), how simple the compositions seem yet pounding with energy, and how the manliness of Britt Daniel’s voice delivers the songs from soothing to sexy. When Spoon are laid-back (“Goodnight Laura”, “What Makes Your Money”, “Out Go The Lights”) they are gently laid-back; and when they are upbeat (“Written in Reverse”, “Is Love Forever?”) they really up the beat, without any trouble.

Transference seems to tweak the style of the band a little, if one is to nitpick, considering the abrupt end of “The Mystery Zone” and the rough and almost alienating transitions between the tracks. The uneven quality seems like an experiment, and though it tends to stick out, it doesn’t really hurt the album that much. In fact, what becomes obvious is that Spoon are trying to be intimate through their lyrics, through the emotional tug of their songs, like a drug in a syringe injected to achieve a quick and invasive effect.  The easy favorite “Got Nuffin” laments And I got nothing to lose but / Darkness and shadows / Got nothing to lose but / Bitterness and patterns, the last line replaced in its repetition with emptiness and hang-ups and loneliness and patterns. Its words smack of homesickness but the rhythms engage to the point of eliminating all the ennui it wears, maintaining a levelheaded sadness that comforts all throughout. Daniel is up to some snarling in the first single “Written in Reverse”, but it’s the kind of snarl that is lovely to hear, the snarl that makes the track exciting to listen to, like testing how far the aaaahhhhs can go for Daniel’s gal to hear it.

The instrumental on the second-minute-and-a-half of “I Saw the Light” seems to mark a transition—something to set the first six tracks from the five last—but then, it may be something done out of the usual. Whatever the reason is, or even if there is none really, it does not concern any glaring difference among the songs in the sequence. After the instrumental, which somewhere in the middle is recorded with something that sounds like a burp, “Trouble Comes Running” follows. It is a low-key track whose directness of words is as evocative as the riff that accompanies them. It’s a standout in a non-standout way—oh yes, the Spoon paradox again—something like a breeze during summer, the wind that flips one’s cap while walking home from school, earphones on as Daniel sings, Slaves are on the horses / Princes walk the ground like they’re slaves. The song goes well with some head banging and a bit of lonesome footwork.

Remaining faithful to their beats, Spoon are still the above average band high school rockers can be fond of. Even their loyal followers since Kill The Moonlight will also have a lot to cherish in Transference. And the above average band they are, Spoon continue to keep pushing that space between above and average, dissolving the second word till all that’s left to do is stay on the first.

– The Master Spinner

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