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Listening

The New Spoon Album

I’ve been lis­ten­ing to Spoon’s Trans­fer­ence for the past cou­ple weeks. They’re on of my favorite bands. Britt Daniel has become a great lyri­cist and the songs have got­ten catch­i­er with every album. That is, until now.

I heard an inter­view with the band last night that made Trans­fer­ence more appeal­ing than it is. Daniel and Jim Eno made the album’s weak­ness­es sound like strengths. There’s no hid­ing the fact that their efforts to make an “ugli­er” record suc­ceed­ed, so why not embrace it?

They knew what sound they want­ed and pro­duced the record them­selves, but that’s not the issue. Trans­fer­ence is imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize­able as a Spoon record; the prob­lem is that it’s not a very good one. You’d have to go back to the dar­ing, equal­ly uneven Kill the Moon­light to hear some­thing as infu­ri­at­ing as this. Sequenc­ing, not pro­duc­tion, stops Trans­fer­ence in its tracks.

Spoon buried the best songs in the mid­dle third of the album, start­ing with “Writ­ten in Reverse” and end­ing with the plain­tive strains of “Good­night Lau­ra,” a song that veers dan­ger­ous­ly close to maudlin which would­n’t be so bad if this weren’t a Spoon album.

We’ve come to expect great things. Their sound might be best described as Bil­ly Joel songs as reimag­ined by Wire. Songs like “Sis­ter Jack” and “The Under­dog” bur­nished their rep­u­ta­tion as a band on the cusp of great­ness. There’s noth­ing of that cal­iber here.

Trans­fer­ence should’ve been Spoon’s mag­num opus, the prod­uct of two decades worth of hard work from a band at the height of its pow­er. Instead it’s the album you can tell the unini­ti­at­ed they can safe­ly ignore.

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