Spoon seems to more and more be approaching a Yo La Tengo-like status as a reliably good indie band churning out high quality releases every two or three years. Granted, the latter has a good ten years on the former, but both have a consistency remarkable not only in quality but in the fact that the quality requires minimal sound tweaking to attain. Last year head Spoon Britt Daniel produced the White Rabbits' excellent sophomore record, It's Frightening, which in spite of their own style, had a distinct Spoon flavor to it. This, paired with the release of the Got Nuffin EP, fed a great deal of the anticipation for the new album(as if their fans actually needed the goading). Now that Transference, their seventh album, is finally out, it lives up to all expectations with unsurprising ease. While not as meticulously produced as its two preceding releases, Transference still has all the charm and cleverness one would expect from the band.
The first thing you might notice about Transference is its somewhat raw sound. In comparison to its predecessor, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (as has been mentioned before), this album feels a lot more whimsical than its more tight and polished predecessor. While songs like Is Love Forever? have endlessly luring hooks (namely in the opposing guitars and bass), an even more fascinating aspect is the great meshing of pop and lo-fi. Love is followed by the compelling pair of The Mystery Zone and Who Makes Your Money, which each manage to sound musically minimal, yet rich. The bluesy piano led stomp of Written in Reverse returns Transference to the more raw, almost demo-sounding character that Love presented, though with much rougher edges, and not to mention a rather clever lyrical structure. Midway track I Saw the Light is another more garage-sounding tune, but something that is a testament to Spoon's songwriting is how the album never sounds like two separate halves forced together; despite the obvious difference in overall sound among the tracks (more subdued vs. more rough), there is a very strong sense of cohesion.
After the addictive garage sound of Trouble Comes Running is an almost startlingly lullaby-esque song in Goodnight Laura. Extremely gentle and unironic both musically and lyrically, it's a very simple and sweet ballad which, again, to compliment Transference's cohesion, nestles in quite nicely between Trouble and Out Go the Lights' throbbing tale of heartbreak. Lead single off last year's EP of the same name, Got Nuffin(continuing the trend of phonetic singles like Don't You Evah) picks up really well here with its lively sound and hopeful lyrics, and leads perfectly into the closing Nobody Gets Me but You.
It's not impressive that Spoon has released another fantastic album so much as that they have managed to keep their sound relatively uniform while so easily avoiding redundancy. Though released nearly a full seven months beforehand, Got Nuffin served as a great single partly for how highly representative of Transference it is; instantly catchy melody, clever instrumentation, and an undeceptively positive, upbeat sound.