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Label: Merge Records
Their music is often described as “spiky” or “angular” and their lyricism “obtuse” or “obscurantist.” Even their extended tracks are rhythmically tight and often too concise to be considered “jams.” Plus, Spoon’s formalist music allows little room for grandiose statements. Yet, Transference is their loosest album. They used several of their demos as final cuts and some songs begin or end with the snippets of original sketches. The result is unsettling, If not a bit freeing from their normally rigidity.
It is fair to note that it took me at least four listens before the grooves started to stick. Initially, some tracks were too distant or disconnected to attach myself to, but grew more memorable after that. The gray grit of “Before Destruction” starkly begins the album on a sour note that persists throughout with minor exceptions: Spoon’s most tender song yet, “Goodnight Laura” and the ultimately positive and punchy “Got Nuffin.”
Britt Daniel claims at the album’s end, “Nobody gets what I’m saying / Must be some way to convey it.” It may be the most honest lyrics he’s written yet, but as Tom Ewing of the UK Guardian proposes, “the indirectness is the point.” With Transference, Spoon is more direct than it ever has been but in the end, they don’t disappoint. Rating: A-
Album: She Wolf
My friend Michael swears this record is all about the lyrics. At first glance I just shrugged as they are playful, smart, cute, and even funny, but nothing extraordinary. Then I listened many times over and I swear it is all about her voice. I’ve never paid much attention to Shakira’s vocals before, but what breadth! The winner here is “Men in This Town” where she uses five different voices to prove her point: she starts coquettish, then soaring and operatic, then, brazenly nasal and bratty, then cartoonish and pixie-like, finally she tops it off with a little garbled and slurred garnish. On the track “Spy” she imitates what sounds like should be a trumpet but ends up more like a cross between a drunk Esther Phillps or Phoebe Snow. All the tracks have infectious grooves, memorable melodies, catchy hooks and guest stars that don’t overpower the multi-timbred star. Rating: A
Blair Fraipont, a long-time Rehoboth resident, lives in New York City. He can be reached at email@example.com.