Friday, January 15, 2010
YIS Recommends : Spoon - Transference
Ever since I first heard Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" I've become a little obsessed with things missing in music; little pieces cut out to make the whole more powerful, or to highlight certain things within a song. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is the sound of a band pulling back and looking inwards; everything isn't layed out for you. Not everything is there all the time. Not all the arrangements are the most "classic" or satisfying as they could be in the way that a traditional musical climax is satisfying. Not everything is "pretty", even though it's a beautiful record. It's music that you're not sure you like but can't stop listening to until you're obsessed with it. New layers reveal themselves over a number of listens. Patience is rewarded, and although things might seem spontaneous or experimental, everything on that album is deliberate and sculpted to be just so.
It's an amazing album. I sometimes get a bit cynical about music; that one time back in 2005 where I described a gig as "amazing" to some friends they couldn't believe it. I seldom describe anything as "amazing" as I think it's a word that thrown around a little too much. Sometimes when it's a while since I've seen or heard something where "amazing" is appropriate, my stance softens a bit and I sometimes start to say some things are "pretty good" or even "excellent"... and then bands like Spoon come out and make music of such genius that reminds me of the true definition of the word "amazing".
Soundwise, I think a good counterpoint to the new album "Transference" is Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimist"; where as Grizzly Bear is soaked in reverb and sounds full no matter what number or combination of instruments are being played at once, Spoon's sound is dry and sparse; this isn't a big wash of sound; it's jagged little pieces that all sit in their own sonic realm. You can hear the gaps. I love the little touches on this album; the abrupt fadeouts or cuts at the ends of songs, the way the echo on Britt Daniel's vocals doesn't trail off nicely but just stops mid-decay. The way that they mix fidelities within songs, either abruptly transitioning between Britt's home recordings and full studio production, or with piano spilling over the gaps.
There's very few bands who make "pop" music today that are brave enough to make these choices. Spoon are a band who stand high above most, and the worst thing about it (as a musician) is how casually brilliant it is. There isn't anything on this album that could be described as "busy"; the playing is economical and the sound is distinctly Spoon.
Transference is out today in Australia. Go and buy it.