It should come as no surprise that an album named after a psych 101 term would be insular. But this claim of introspection might lead to wrong expectations. About as useful as calling Spoon’s songs angular or minimal. Yes, the most loose limbed guitar passages on Transference raise up the spectre of Robert Quine. And yes, every composition is cleft real close to the bone leaving only its quivering core. But all these indicator and signifiers might give the wrong impression. These songs don’t slouch, they swagger.
Instead of trying to stir up nostalgia for music past, Daniels and the band chop and channel everything into a contemporary sound which never seems like dumpster diving. For example, While Who Makes Your Money’s keyboard stutters and Written in Reverse’s piano figures evoke the 80s and 70s respectively, the contexts are unique. Seven albums in , Spoon sound simply like themselves.
Not satisfied to clone Gimme Fiction or Ga Ga Ga Ga, they have shifted their emphasis ever so slightly. The compositions have a spacious quality that is more practice space than outer space. Songs like Mystery Zone and I Saw The Light have a personal touch which while not exactly homespun, possess more edges than if it had been produced by a third party. Nifty bits of vocal cutting reduce certain lines to blunt ends which evoke samples as much as it does a microphone malfunction. Effortlessly they push their music in small but very satisfying ways.
I know this all sounds terribly academic but Spoon is never that dry. All the production florishes, or lack thereof, is conveyed with something very difficult to quantify. I think it’s called heart and soul. But then again, I may be projecting.