Spoon: Transferrence (Review)

28 January 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Music fans feeling alienated by the quirkiness of Vampire Weekend’s “Contra” may find an easier listening experience in the new album from Spoon.

“Transferrence” is Spoon’s seventh studio album, and many are calling it their best. Their diverse sound is nothing short of refreshing, though long-term fans will most likely be taken aback by the eclectic mix of sounds and rhythms. Rather than progressing logically from “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,” the band takes on a bit of a different, creative approach to their music, and since they produce the album themselves, were able to maintain this creative edge in the final product.

Which means that fans will alternately find the record alienating and captivating, and I suspect it may be determined both by expectations and by repeat listens, though fans will still find familiar styles in songs like “I Saw the Light,” and “Nobody Gets Me But You.”

Musically the album is relatively diverse, some songs delivering a mellow blend of Starbucks-friendly indie rock, while other songs deliver a more up-tempo Beatles-influenced classic-rock sound. The tracks are surprisingly busy, the musical space occupied by the smattering presence of keys, solid guitars and Britt Daniel’s signature, rainy-day vocals.

But here’s where it gets interesting: the album is both unpolished and highly produced. Tracks retain the rough, raw quality of an old winter coat, while at the same time the band has introduced a hodgepodge of production tricks that give it a mondernized, updated sound.

Some reviewers have been put-off by this juxtaposition of styles, which admittedly does come off as a bit uneven at first listen.

But after a listen or two the transitions become much less jarring, and you quickly come to appreciate the album’s variety. And the record has more than enough hooks to hang your hat on, and will surely earn its place in your regular listening rotation.

What’s especially encouraging is the attention the album has been receiving by mainstream media, and I was pleased to see it on the new release rack of a local bookstore. Diehard fans will surely make the effort to get to know this album better, and its rise to popularity will introduce new fans to the band’s sound.

To that end, new fans would do well to pick up the band’s first album, “Telephono,” or jump ahead to a fan favorite “Gimme Fiction.”

Spoon has certainly found their place in the music scene.

And it’s about time.

28 January 2010

Christopher J Wiles

writer | speaker | servant

Chris is a writer and speaker from the Charlottesville area. He regularly serves as a research writer for Docent Research Group in addition to doing some guest speaking.

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