Spoon hits a crossroads with Transference

A change of pace. What does that really mean? A transitional period? Re-exploration? Achieving new goals? Possibly. Sometimes we’re so numb from what we’re used to we aim to expand what we know. Our minds are set to want more, whether we deem our lives a success or otherwise. As we age, we look for new forms of play, the ability to set ourselves free from normal constraints and use our imaginations. Creativity, inventiveness, inspiration – we contemplate how we can push ourselves to be different within the realm of how we already act. How do we mesh the two together? It’s a constant question that I struggle with, and usually I’m left looking for answers. Spoon, after 17 years together, have figured out their own such balance on Transference.

To be honest, I’m somewhere down the middle on the album as a whole. On one hand, Spoon proves that they can exceed the expectations of their typical, straight-edge pop rock sensibilities. However, at this point I’ve become wont to this style, and with bands we hold dearly to our hearts, we want an expansion of what we like, not experimentation. I can’t say this direction wasn’t entirely expected, though, as Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga hinted at a new, exploratory Spoon, but Transference really sets the modification in stone. I imagine it will take time for the seasoned Spoon listener to let that sink in.

No longer does each track have an immediate hook; there’s an acute sense of space on this album. Long instrumental interludes, slower and dreamier verses, structures that don’t seem to fit the rest of a song. Spoon is playing with their template, becoming more complex, and having fun in the process. “Who Makes Your Money” is dream pop at its core with backing synth and a hardly matching guitar transition at the midpoint. “Goodnight Laura” is a soft piano ballad, with Britt Daniel’s voice exuding determination despite the frailty of the song. “Nobody Gets Me Like You” is a bunch of randomly strewn instrumental bits under Daniel’s vocals. Several other tracks, including my favorite song on the album, “I Saw The Light”, which are mixed in with more standard fare Spoon (such as the forceful, electric pop of “Is Love Forever”, “Got Nuffin”, and “Written In Reverse”), display similar spacey characteristics.

Even after repeat listens, I expect (…hope) Transference will continue to grow on me. Whether that is a mark of sophisticated songwriting or more dislike than usual, I don’t know. What I do know is that even with a disparate effort, I’m still happy listening to Spoon. They’re incredibly talented, and Transference shows us why.

Spoon – “Written In Reverse” [MP3]

Spoon – “Got Nuffin” [MP3]

Purchase Transference from Spoon’s website

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