Spoon – Transference

‘Transference’ is either the beginning of a change, or at least a message that they won’t always make the same sound.


Spoon have always been known for their consistency – consistent sound, consistent image, consistently good, and on this their seventh album you might be forgiven for thinking that this effort is consistent with the rest of them. But dig a little deeper and you might start to think that there’s something a little different about ‘Transference’, even if you can’t quite put your finger on what that might be. It sounds like Spoon; the requisite focus on rhythmic guitar and piano is there, as is Jim Eno’s restrained but ever-present drumming style, but there’s just something off about it all.

Britt Daniel and co. have been very clever about this, that’s for sure. You never once question that this is the band that we’ve always known and loved, but with each passing song you realise that the highly-refined rock-pop style they’ve become known for is just slightly twisted, with more jagged edges and rough bits of production left in to stop it all becoming just another Spoon album. Songs end before they should or stop halfway through and start again anew, vocals even mysteriously cut out midway through sentences. Even the flow of the album itself seems to have been chosen precisely so that it doesn’t flow. Attention has been paid to not paying attention.

The reasons for all of this? Well, as the band compromise their signature style, they strip their sound down to its various facets. Each song presents another side to a band whose own consistency could have made for a very samey album. Instead, they prove how versatile and changeable they can be. Opener ‘Before Destruction’ could be a stripped-down Radiohead at times, all overlapping vocals and quiet, twisting instrumentation before ‘Is Love Forever?’ kicks in and stretches Spoon’s drum and guitar beat out for an entire song as Britt intermittently snarls over it. The rest of the album makes for equally odd segues between songs. ‘Trouble Comes Running’ has all the verve and stomp of early Kings of Leon (even Britt’s vocals seem to be an impression of Caleb Followill’s previously unintelligible, clipped style) which leads into ‘Goodnight Laura’, a quiet piano ballad with an altogether different, smoother set of vocals.

Contrast is everything it seems, and’ Transference’ delivers it in spades. But, given all this changeability, the band have made the entire album sound unmistakeably like their older work, not just some wild experiment. This is their greatest achievement, it sounds just like a Spoon album, but each song sounds completely different.

‘Transference’ is either the beginning of a change, or at least a message that they won’t always make the same sound. But one thing hasn’t changed – it’s consistently brilliant.

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