Merge Records

Even for a band like Spoon, a band who seemed incapable of writing a bad tune, let alone a band album during the past decade, the self-produced route is one teeming with perils.  Without the extra set of ears provided by an outsider, a band can fall easily into the extended intro trap, the extended outtro trap, the needless solo trap, the burdensome effects trap, the girlfriend on back-up trap, the best friend on clarinet trap, or the prog rock trap.  Oh, these all seem like good ideas at the time, but once you’re removed from the studio, you may find yourself second guessing that bright idea of letting Bob show off his high school clarinet skills.

Not that Bob and his clarinet are anywhere to be found on Spoon’s Transference, but it is a self-produced album and Spoon do as many have done before them and fall into some of the aforementioned traps.  “Mystery Zone,” “Who Makes You Money,” and “I Saw the Light,” all suffer from not knowing when to end.  They all have the basic Spoon groove down well — The minimalist mix of laid-back rock, pop, dub, and slightly shaking funk, and they all go on for one or two minutes too long.  Even the singles on Transference — “Got Nuffin'” and “Written in Reverse” — don’t have the same pop as earlier singles like “Sister Jack” and “The Underdog.”  They fit in more than they make you sit up and take notice.

Now, this isn’t the same as saying Transference is a bad album.  Like I said earlier, Spoon can’t make a bad album.  The Spoon groove all but ensures it will be a smooth and pleasant experience.  Plus, there’s even a third single in “Trouble,” just waiting to be released.  It’s just that once the final notes on “Nobody Gets Me But You” fade away, you’ll conclude much as I did, that an extra set of ears in the studio would have gone a long way to making Transference the album it deserved to be.  6 out of 10 on The Rockometer.