SPOON – Transference (2010)

I’ve always said to people that I should like Spoon way more than I actually do like Spoon. I’m kidding, of course – but really, I’m kidding on the square (a phrase that means “joking, but really meaning it” – Al Franken semi-popularized its use in the new millennium; no, really). You see, Spoon have been have been steadily honing a very specific sound for the better part of a decade, and truth be told, it’s just not something I get in the mood to listen to often. So maybe I’m not the best person to be reviewing Transference. Or, on the flip side of things, maybe I’m the perfect person to review it; since my emotional investment in the band is minimal, I am, perhaps, less likely to wax excessively positive or negative about it. Yeah. We’ll go with that second choice.

Given that Spoon are one of the few bands who reside in the innermost sanctum of the indie rock pantheon, expectations are always high for their albums, and with good reason – their last three albums have been quite excellent (with 2005’s Gimme Fiction being my personal favorite). Some of that excellence is on display on Transference, but there also seems to be many, many times where the band are coasting along on autopilot, not really breathing much life into their music. I’ve listened to the album three times now, and really, there’s not much I can say about it other than it’s got a few good songs and more than a few forgettable ones. To make matters worse, it does not get off to the best of starts. Of the first four (yikes!) songs, only Is Love Forever? stands out memorably (and unfortunately, I fear if it were longer, it too might fail to leave any kind of lasting impression – as it stands, however, at just a hair over two minutes, the song works). The rest of these songs, while not terrible, feel empty in some way; they’re relaxed, mid-tempo jaunts through nowhere, certainly not the type of fair we’ve been accustomed to from Spoon for the past several years. The first single, Written In Reverse, is agreeable enough, but not much else. But Transference is not without its highlights – Got Nuffin (a song which got its own EP back in June) has the energy that much of the album lacks. Same goes for Trouble Comes Running and Out Go The Lights; I’m not sure yet if it’s a blessing or a curse that all three of these tracks show up near the end of the album.

I mentioned that I was reviewing Transference today to a friend of mine who had already heard it, and he told me that, while not being up to par with their past work, “a bad Spoon album is still better than most other bands’ good albums.” There’s a lot of truth to that. At no point did I ever want to turn Transference off when I was listening to it. But the album failed to burrow into my head. And since Spoon aren’t my go-to band to begin with, I doubt that this album will get many more plays from me as time wears on. Unfortunately, I think that last bit might be true even for fans of the band more devoted than I.

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One Response to “SPOON – Transference (2010)”

  1. […] mainstream, top 40 albums we’re talking about here – it’s everything. That new Spoon album of yours could probably go toe-to-toe with Lady Gaga, […]

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