From the Vaults

You Weren’t There But You Were: The mysterious zone of Spoon’s “Transference”

spoon-transferenceSPOON – Transference (Merge ’10): Imagine how good Spoon could be if Jim Eno knew more than one rhythm on drums. Seriously. It’s not every day a band stumbles upon a riff as catchy yet minimalistic as “The Mystery Zone,” its single-note staccato bass line as sharp as a snare drum, the throbbing but spare guitar echoing to mysterious effect, and a great vocal performance by Britt Daniel with perfectly unpredictable timing, all nearly undermined by the most boring drumbeat imaginable. But that’s also part of Spoon’s charm. No matter how primitive a rhythm Eno drops, Daniel and crew manage to shape themselves around it, tricking you into believing what you’re hearing is more sophisticated than just a thump-thump-thump. The guitar and bass hop over back-and-forth across the stumbling rhythm Eno lays down on “Is Love Forever?” like it’s a fire they don’t want to land in just as much as Daniel’s lyrics and chugging delivery dance around the question itself with only more questions: “Was that love or instinct working? Have I felt it ever?” On “Trouble Comes Running” that guitar and bass bubble up like cresting waves that can’t crash, tightening themselves in anticipation before blowing their load on what’s easily the album’s most irresistible chorus, about love being that trouble coming right at him. And love’s what makes Daniel trepidatious throughout Transference—love as a liberator capable of breaking self-imposed barrier, as a force powerful enough to rival religion, as a state of being like a literal state called “The Mystery Zone,” which “all of those people you used to run into but never do now” took off for. So for Spoon, and Eno especially, that sensation must more or less have the same rhythm—a thump-thump-thump that won’t be stopped. A MINUS


Spoon – They Want My Soul (Loma Vista ’14): A MINUS
Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge ’12): A MINUS


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