Spoon’s music has never lacked spark or structure, even when it’s tackled harrowing topics. Girls Can Tell’s “Fitted Shirt,” for instance—a song inspired by the funeral of frontman Britt Daniel’s grandfather—had an urgent undercurrent, and its lyrics and riffs roared with crisp pain.
- Beyond the Weekly
Transference, in contrast, mostly drowns in gloomy basslines and dour minor chords, all of which are further dulled by formless songwriting and plodding tempos. The foggy “Who Makes Your Money” is the worst offender of the bunch, a lame-limbed gallop with shaky Daniel falsetto and soapy blue-eyed soul flourishes. “Written in Reverse,” which features off-key piano plinking that sounds like a second grader’s first recital, isn’t much better; as an added bonus, that song has Transference’s most awkward lyrics: “And it feels real good/Although only briefly/Like high-school poppers would.”
Still, Spoon’s emotional growth is evident. The band occasionally sheds its jaunty power-pop/soul skin, leaving nuance, vulnerability and even delicacy exposed. Ballad “Goodnight Laura” haunts with its simple piano and Daniel’s bare delivery, while the brisk “Nobody Gets Me but You” is a swerving keyboard-pop gem. The latter crackles with focus and purpose, qualities missing from most of Transference.