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Spoon's simpler seventh still satisfies

Spoon - Transference
(Merge Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 13, 2010

Review by Tony Bonyata

On Spoon's seventh and most recent full-length album, Transference (released earlier this year), the Austin, TX indie-rock quartet has toned-down some of the exuberance and immediacy of their last and, arguably, most revered album, 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. In exchange, they've traded in the joyous horns, indelible left-field melodies and quirky hooks from their last record for a collection of decidedly more minimalistic songs. At first-blush, many of these appear less focused and fleshed-out, but after a few spins they reveal themselves as slow-burners that blossom a bit more with each listen.

While their last few albums kicked off with punchy opening tracks that helped set the tone of each respective record, Transference instead opens on the peculiar note of "Before Destruction," a loose, dreamy and rather indistinct choice to be sure. While the following track, "Is Love Forever?," displays more spunk with its convulsing rhythm, it still tends to meander. But it's from here on out that things start to get interesting. "Mystery Zone" taps into the angular swagger that the band is known for, but also adds in a touch 80s synths over frontman Britt Daniel's cool, detached vocal delivery. "Nobody Gets Me But You" is propelled by a dayglow disco bass-line, yet still retains a sense of indie cool with jagged guitars and avant-garde piano flourishes. A ghostly keyboard line dances in air with the reverbing call-and-response harmonies of "Who Makes Your Money," while the muscular "Written In Reverse" is without question the most immediate and memorable track on the album.

The simple piano-led lullaby "Goodnight Laura" adds, for better or worse, a decidedly sleepier element, before things pick up again on the poppier "Out Go The Lights" and the pounding rocker "Got Nuffin."

Despite the fact that this album probably won't be nearly as well remembered (or played) as some of their other albums such as Gimme Fiction, Kill The Moonlight or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, it's still a worthy effort from one of the most interesting bands of the last decade.

Related articles:

Spoon (Summerfest 2009) - Photo gallery - Milwaukee, WI - July 2009
Spoon (Voodoo Music Experience 2007) - Festival review - New Orleans, LA - October 2007
Spoon / The Ponys - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI - October 2007
Spoon (Lollapalooza 2005) - Festival review - Chicago, IL - August 2005

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