Spoon, Transference

Posted on January 1, 2011 by

And at number three…

Artist: Spoon
Title: Transference
Label: Merge 365
Released: January 18, 2010

After the release of two meticulously crafted alt-pop records, Spoon released Transference, an album that critics referred to as sounding like a collection of demos, using terms like spare, sparse and stripped. The term they ignored was space.

Spoon took the production reins into their own hands on this 2010 release. Yes, it was a departure from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and 2005’s Gimmie Fiction. With a title like Transference, change was to be expected.

They still carry an early 80s post-punk sound, but with the prominence of piano. Even though the piano can carry a melody, it is a percussive instrument. With the drum a little higher in the mix than previous albums, it creates space in the music. There aren’t layers of bongos or liquid bass lines, but a congruence of rhythm. Although the album has a slow-to-medium tempo, it still exhibits a drive because of the space.

Melodically, it is narrow, with vocalist Britt Daniels being more conversational than canorous. But when he reaches down inside for emotion, it’s found more in the grunts, screams, oooohs and ahhhhs, coming off like a cross between Elvis Costello and John Lennon.

Lyrically it reminds me of the Talking Heads, somewhat simple, vague and disjointed but full of images. The interpretation is in the musical delivery. I don’t know how well they would survive on their own, but they are lyrics, not poetry set to music. “Trouble Come Running” is a good example.

Spoon did not abandon being fastidious; they just cultivated a new vision. It takes just as much forethought to anticipate silence as it does noise.


One Response to “Spoon, Transference”

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