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.