spoon transference
  • TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010

  • Posted by:

What we talk about when we talk about current American rock heroes: Wilco and their contemporaries, The National, The Hold Steady, you know the kind. The guys who consistently get called out as "Americana." The guys who can still string together a guitar tune and not be assigned a random derogatory subcategory, shoe gaze, chill-wave, psychedelic, acid rock. Whatever fad you think is the next big thing, these guys crap all over it with stuff that could have been written forty years ago and still sounds fresh. And Spoon may be the king of the current favorites. With a career spanning over a decade, and a definitive sound, the band has been there and back again. They don't suffer from the over-glorification like Wilco, but they are just as solid... some might say more so. And they've taken it to a new level. Transference was produced by Spoon, made by Spoon, and its raw and unapologetic.

Britt Daniels works his magic in a totally unexpected way. The whole thing is tight. From the roomy opener to "The Mystery Zone," first single "Written In Reverse," Spoon's jagged acoustic guitar punches just as hard as Daniels iconic voice. It is hard to say what exactly sets Spoon apart, the songs are just really great. The riffs are sprightly even when they are slow. There is an energy beneath everything they lay down; the building of the drums, the guitar layering, the tambourine. The orchestrations. Our own personal "Mystery Zone" personified and recorded, ready for us with open arms.

I actually want to compare Transference to Wilco (The Album), because in my mind they try to accomplish the same thing in two very different ways. Both albums seem to be a culmination of years of sculpting a band identity. While Wilco defines themselves as a more seasoned, with their trademark wit and wordplay, Spoon abandons polish and overproduction for a grittier, more fleshed out instrumentation. It is an experimental affair (as far as Spoon goes). Nothing like Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and only loosely related to Kill The Moonlight , Spoon really takes their identity to a different level, whereas Wilco seemed to be building on an already monstrous expectation. That isn't to say if you heard Spoon before you won't recognize the repetition, or the melodic style; you already know what to expect. But the production is empirically different.

"I Saw The Light", like most of the record, plays with new toys&mdash abrupt shifts in tempo, vocal doubling&mdash but is so much better for it. The guys really shine during the second half, when they get into an instrumental jam and go nuts, Britt adding subtle bass vocals underneath it all. "Goodnight Laura" is an interesting piano ballad, scaling back the aggressive guitars but keeping the forward momentum. Stripped down or electrified, Spoon keeps the focus and the intrigue going. Fans of their cut-and-dry tracks will leave confused.

But Transference is an album of great songwriting, great part writing, great everything. Brit Daniels sounds great. But the best part of the album is hearing the real Spoon, the sound that Daniels and the guys have had in their heads all these years, masked by producers opinions and others projections. It's the real Spoon, in their own words, and they sound better than ever. -joe puglisi

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MP3: Spoon - "Written In Reverse" (Transference)
Spoon on Myspace



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