Unfiltered <b>Spoon</b>

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Jan 22, 2010

"This one is pure Spoon," Britt Daniel boldly claimed about his band's seventh studio album, Transference, in the news section of their website. The Austin, TX band have enjoyed cult status for nearly a decade now, so why, after so many albums, is Daniel claiming Transference to be the sound of "pure Spoon"? "When we made the last four [2001's Girls Can Tell, 2002's Kill the Moonlight, 2005's Gimme Fiction and 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga] with [producer] Mike McCarthy, I really liked the way they turned out, and we knew that if we put in the time with him we could always turn in a good record," he explains. "But when you're working with a producer, it's a meeting of two different aesthetics. I wanted to make a record where there wasn't that additional filter, where it could be just be purely the way we or I thought it should be. If that meant it was a little more amateurish or uglier, then that was fine."

And fine it is. While it's arguably rougher around the edges than any Spoon album since 1998's A Series of Sneaks, Transference is downright elegant in its austerity, equally raw in both the "unrefined" and "painfully exposed" sense. It's a return to the spaciousness of Kill the Moonlight but not the cleanliness, an album that stomps around, rolls gently over you, and kisses you off sharply after churning you through the gears of a mangled piano. It's a stark divergence from the pop sheen of Ga, but Daniel is quick to assert that Transference is a next step from, not a response to, their previous record.

"I didn't go into saying it should be anything really, consciously, it just kind of came about that way," Britt admits about the Transference's sound. Although both Daniel and drummer/co-founder Jim Eno have been co-producers (and often, engineers and mixers as well) on every Spoon album to date, Transference marks the first time the band have produced a Spoon record independently. It's somewhat of a coup for Daniel, who's insistent that every record be intimately managed by the band to prevent compromising their vision. "That is a very essential part of what I think most real, and most really great, artists do. They want to be involved in how everything is presented, [because] the more things you leave to other people, the more things you leave to chance, very often the more your personality is diluted."

For Daniel and Spoon, it's about maintaining artistic integrity while continuing to challenge themselves as artists, and Transference marks a proud achievement for the band. "It's kind of futile to try to keep making a better and better record, or to try to tell yourself this one's going to be better. At some point you just have to make different types of records, and I am proud that to me, this does feel like, at its core, an essentially different record than the ones we've made before."

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