A few years back, Spoon created a pop masterpiece when they put out Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (is that enough Gas?). They return here with Transference, a record that may not be as easily accessible as their previous effort, but one that seemingly feels more rewarding than its predecessor. Where Ga Ga Ga hit you in the face quick, Transference takes time to unfold before you, often upon repeated listens.
As the hazy organ work grinds over the opening moments of the album, you can tell that the tendency to rely upon hooks is gone. Still, when you hear the audio switch from having Britt in another room, to having him right in your ear, you can tell that hooks aren’t required to reveal the power in this record. It’s a dense tune, but it feels more like the reworking of tracks off Kill the Moonlight.
A lot of listeners will wonder where the catchy numbers have gone, as this record feels striped down and dirty by the time you get through the first three songs. Then you come across “Who Makes Your Money.” Initially, I couldn’t understand this song in the spectrum of the Spoon catalogue, but the more I listened to the record, the playfulness with which Britt approaches the vocals is so rewarding in time that it’s hard not to see this as one of the album’s stronger moments, which says a lot considering how simple it feels.
Oddly, the slow burner that is Transference is just picking up the pace. “Written in Reverse” makes waves as it did upon its release as the single months back. You combine that with the grittiness of “I Saw the Light,” and you can’t help but feel as if Spoon are finally hitting full stride midway through the album, preparing to carry you into bliss. Such is the moment when you arrive at the brightest moments on the record, with “Terrible” and “Goodnight Laura.”
“Terrible” has the lo-fi appeal that everyone seems to crave in their musical coffee, yet it maintains the clever layering that Spoon has always held on to in their songwriting. As the song barrels along, you can feel the classic moments of the band’s history come back into the present. Then you stumble upon “Goodnight Laura,” which has to be my hand’s down favorite song on the album. It reminds me of “Black Like Me” of Ga Ga Ga in its ability to evoke the utmost emotion from the listener, except it utilizes a piano as opposed to the use of guitar. Yet the hits don’t stop coming right here.
Transference fades into its closing moments filled with tunes like “Got Nuffin,” a song you already should have heard by the group, and “Nobody Gets Me But You.” Neither of these songs feels completely polished, unlike the last album, so it maintains the quality that was established at the beginning. It has that sense of trial and error, though they clearly care less about the errors, choosing to leave them as part of the complete portrait they intended to create.
In closing, a lot of people just don’t get Spoon. They’ll claim that the band lack some sort of killer instinct, or that they chose to produced the album themselves, but let’s not forget they have Jim Eno and Britt Daniels, both who have produced records of brilliance in their own right (White Rabbits anyone?). At the end of the day, the more you listen to this album the more you will get out of it, as it unravels bit by bit, leaving you with such a wonderful record that you’ll have to look hard to find faults. It reaffirms that Spoon is one of (if not the only) the most consistent bands around, and Transference just adds to their list of quality records.