As a band, Spoon has paid its dues. Formed in 1994, they just released Transference, their seventh studio album. Their previous album, 2007s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and its horn-infused hit, The Underdog (which even made its way into the soundtrack of last years Zac Efron vehicle, 17 Again), earned the Texas natives deserved attention. Yet, for a seasoned band that writes such catchy melodies, Spoon has remained under the radar for most of their career.
With Transference, the band added a rougher edge to their music—a somewhat surprising move, given that the poppy-sounding Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was their best-selling album. But even though Transference lacks some of the hooks that Spoon has offered on past works, it is still a consistent album, one that listeners may find a bit more challenging but still worth spending time with.
Spoon relies heavily on percussion in their songs and many of the songs on Transference continue with that tradition. The jagged, sometimes blues-influenced sound that they bring to their latest album suits their rhythmic style.
Transference reinvents itself from song to song. Unlike Spoons last album, which stuck mostly to upbeat, short songs, it experiments with a lot of different styles. Some of the diversions on Transference work incredibly well, while a few just feel out of place.
Singer/guitarist Britt Daniels ragged voice is powerful on Written in Reverse, and that intensity, though not typical for the band, makes for one of the best songs on the albums. Got Nuffin is propelled by a driving bass line, and its interweaving combination of bass, drums and piano give it a bluesy garage rock sound that the band seems comfortable in.
It seems like Daniel can write a never-ending supply of fantastic pop songs. And his simple melodies work best when left to speak for themselves, accompanied only with some stripped-down instrumentation.
There are a few points on Transference where things start to veer into more meandering territory, such as the extended closing solo on the otherwise great I Saw the Light, or the electronic synths that sneak into a couple of the songs, such as Who Makes Your Money. Its nice to see the band refusing to settle into a pop music rut, but the change does distract slightly from their usual simple, clean sound.
Transference is not a perfect album. It lacks the immediacy of Ga Ga Ga Ga Gas hooky, tight little set of songs, but the songwriting holds up well against their previous work and its uncharacteristic messiness makes it an intriguing entry in the Spoon catalogue. Transference will likely provide different highlights for every listener. Spoon has always been a reliable band, releasing one solid album after another. This eclectic mix of songs certainly wont ruin their streak.