Monday, April 5, 2010

Spoon, Transference, Merge Records, 2010

From the beginning Spoon has always seemed like a career rather than a rock band, and leader Britt Daniel has always seemed like more of an investment manager than a rocker, more Colonel Parker than Elvis, more Malcolm Mclaren than Sid Vicious. Spoon has been the next big thing for the last fifteen years but have never pulled their tour van over the hump, and there's a good reason for that. Spoon has always epitomized what people distrusted about indie rock - they're pretentious, pregnant with their own self esteem, and hung up on a smug confidence in their own abilities.
Like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, bandleader Britt Daniel has always wanted to "make it" in the real world, and has had a sense of entitlement to rock stardom that never sat well with the listening public. Even as the biggest and most respected indie rocker in the land Daniel has seemed unhappy, ready to compromise whatever necessary in his desire to transcend his meager, but dedicated fanbase.
Spoon has never made a great album. They've done some great songs but have never been able to hold it together long enough to really wow someone. Until now. While Transference, their seventh full length, may not be a 'This is Our Music" statement, it is a "My my, hey hey" kiss off to the both the haters and lovers that have expected so much out of the band. Dropping most of the pretensions that have plagued the band, Daniel strips the sound down to the basics and does what he does best: basic, rooty rock ditties that are flightly enough to dance to but still have the teeth to stick in your head all the live long day. It's quirky without being weird, poppy without pandering and it's the first Spoon album that just seems like a Spoon album, rather than an attempt to set or defy trends. Daniel is not a trendsetter. He's not a rebel either. He's not a lyrical genius, and he's not a guitar god. He never has been. He's the leader of a decent rock band of mild influence and appeal. For once he seems to be comfortable with that. Now he can finally get to work. - Stacks

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