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Album review: Spoon's 'Transference'

January 18, 2010 |  7:40 pm
Spoon_240_ Spoon asks some big questions early in "Transference." On the album's second track, lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno work up a frenzy pondering "Is Love Forever?" At only two minutes, the song doesn't answer the query posed in its title, but there's plenty of frayed guitars and rhythmic tension, a taut rock 'n' roll sound that Spoon has perfected over its more than 15-year career.

But Spoon doesn't necessarily settle into old habits on "Transference." Whereas 2007's "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" saw the band broadening its appeal, accentuating its hooks with mini horn sections, "Transference" has the act experimenting more with textures and mood. The result is a collection of melodic fragments and unexpectedly welcome left turns.

"I Saw the Light" is a would-be celebratory guitar anthem that jolts direction at the 2:17 mark, rebuilding each instrumental layer from the groove up. "Goodnight Laura" is a warmly stripped-down keyboard ballad, and "Written in Reverse" is the rock single as tease, with vocals, guitars and keys just out of alignment.

"Are you picking up what I'm putting down?" Daniel challenges near album's end. He's answered with a low-fi blast of guitars, and Spoon has once again made experimentation go down easy.

-- Todd Martens

Merge Records
Three and a half stars (Out of four)