While standing at the precipice of mass audience success thanks to their 2007 release Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the Austin, Texas-based band Spoon reflected on their musical direction. The band went back into the studio sans a producer or “heavy of any kind” to produce an album that member Britt Daniels referred to in a recent interview as “uglier” than their last release. After a wait of nearly 3 years, Transference gives us a better insight into the band’s self-image

In the press release for Transference, referring to the album’s sound without a producer at the helm, Daniels wrote “When I listen to it I think, hey, that’s how I woulda done it! In other words, this is pure Spoon. Some of the songs are just a step beyond a demo, such as “Trouble Comes Running” a rocker that sounds like it could have been recorded in someone’s garage. Stripped down to the bare–bones you get a better understanding of each band member’s unique contribution. Every instrument stands out in a distinct, even vulnerable manner.

If there is such a thing as acoustic rock, then many of the songs on Transference fit the bill. “Goodnight Laura,” a quiet ballad, becomes sweeter thanks to a piano that sounds like it came from your Grandma’s parlor. “Out Go the Lights” allows Rob Pope’s bass to breathe in the mix instead of being buried in layers of production. Jim Eno’s drumming is one of the reasons Spoon’s sound is so distinctive and Eric Harvey’s keyboard work, often in minor key, manages to highlight Britt Daniel’s shifting melodies. Daniels continues to use his guitar as a rhythm instrument more so than lead instrument. There are several tracks that are reminiscent of past Spoon releases and most were pre-released on EP’s over the last year. “Written In Reverse” and “Got Nuffin” have a more textured quality.

Tranference’s title is inspired by the shift of emotions that occur between objects and people, from one to another. It is also, as the band writes, from one recording medium to another. The lyrics deal in unsentimental ways with the vulnerability due to matters of the heart (“Is Love Forever”) or economics (“Who Makes Your Money?”) Daniels and party have taken a risk in putting together an album without a bridge and with minimal production, but in doing so they reveal the real strengths that make this band one of indie rocks most interesting to follow.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)