Austin-based quartet Spoon has always been adept at injecting subtle, bittersweet tones into their snarky brand of rock. Cavernous pop single “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a perfect example of the band’s penchant for maintaining a ghostly sadness beneath all the richly laden fire and fuzz, keenly matching vocalist Britt Daniel’s preferred role as a pained, hoarse brute. Thus, though seventh studio album Transference is a sparser effort, it is no less melancholic. In fact, as all of Ga‘s atmosphere is ripped away to leave nothing more but naked, blunt staccato guitars, the once-hazy despair comes into a sharp focus. Here Spoon’s swagger is flailing rather than tight and Daniel’s trademark guttural bursts more slurred and muffled, lending the record a wonderfully unpredictable anxiety to go along with its minimalism. The broken, stumbling piano of “Goodnight Laura,” almost harpsichord-like in its harshness, is effective without any accompaniment aside from Daniel’s half-heartedly repeated insistence that “you’re all right.” Likewise, the band finds triumph in combining shuffling percussion and threadbare plucked guitars for standout track “Out Go the Lights.” Spoon sheds any semblance of vocals for the song’s final two minutes, favoring instead a dark, wandering pace that gets mirrored on entries such as “The Mystery Zone,” “Before Destruction,” and “Who Makes Your Money.” The somber, subtle hand instills Transference with a fair amount of grace, an impressive feat for a band known more for its indie irreverence than its elegance.
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