The average response to a new Spoon album is usually something very close to “Well, it sounds like Spoon.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing—the band, under the leadership of Britt Daniel, whose pretentiousness has advanced from obnoxious to almost endearing at this point in his career, has been one of the most consistent rock outfits in the indie scene for more than a decade. Still, you can’t help but wonder if Daniel has some formula that takes equal parts of Spoon’s catchy earlier pop creations like “I Turn My Camera On” and “Small Stakes,” adds a few off-kilter (but minimalist) keyboard-driven compositions, and combines them to ultimately form an album that’s hard to completely dismiss.
And that’s just the thing with Transference—it sounds like a typical Spoon album, but it’s just slightly different enough to make it worth listening to. Here, Daniel abandons Spoon’s tendency to make fluidly consistent records. On their last release, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, every track led so perfectly into the next that you wonder if they were written sequentially. In contrast, songs on Transference halt midway through and lead abruptly into the unexpected, such as the album’s eerie and disorienting standout, “Who Makes Your Money” and the hushed “Goodnight Laura.”
So, yes—at its core, with just a little variation, Transference is a typical Spoon album. Isn’t that what you expected?