Spoon: Transference

3 1/2 stars
RIYL: Modest Mouse, Pixies

With an album name like Transference, generally meaning misdirected emotions or a kind of displacement, it should come as no surprise that Spoon side-step their usual M.O for their seventh studio album. For those who grew accustomed to the band’s neatness on albums like Gimme Fictionand Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Transference will feel unkempt, while early adopters of the band might appreciate the album’s raw qualities.

With the standard two to three years Spoon takes between records, it’s clear that a lot of planning goes into each album – but with Transference, that implication is a bit sad, because the album projects a one-off kind of attitude. Apparently the band had to work hard even to make it sound like they didn’t. The songs are rife with actions that make the writing feel half thought out – from pauses in the middle of words and sentences, to uncharacteristically long and directionless instrumentals. It would be something if this resulted in some new experimental form or sound, but it’s not wildly different – just slightly off-kilter. So mostly it reads like Spoon got into the studio with material that hadn’t quite fermented.

With its ambling feel, the tracks that bend the ear are the poppier ones, or the serious deviations in style. On “Written in Reverse,” Britt Daniel is literally screaming for your attention – and get it he does. “Who Makes Your Money,” on the other hand, stands out for its echoey, distant subtlety, and “Goodnight Laura” for its unusual display of sentiment, “When you think your thoughts be sure that they are sweet ones.”

Transference is a classic grower, an album that will reward those with the patience -which will most likely be Spoon’s most established fans. Unfortunately for others, what lingers most may not be the songs, but questions of what might have happened if the band sat on these songs awhile longer, or what might have happened if the band actually went wild instead of just trying to sound like they did. Merge 2010

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