Been listening to Spoon's about-to-be released seventh studio album Transference (slated for release tomorrow) pretty much non-stop for the past four days, thanks to NPR's Exclusive First Listen, and have to say, we're newly reconverted to the Spoon fold.
We fell out of love (although not out of like) after Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, which, despite the good reviews it garnered, felt a little tired and unremarkable. After a few days of heavy rotation, Transference has convinced us that not only were we wrong about the band passing its prime, we may have been wrong about Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga itself - that's right: It's so good, it has retconned the last album for us.
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Transference links all the pieces of Spoon's now-storied history (can you believe the band's been around for fifteen years now?) and fuses them into one accomplished, swaggering, beautiful beast of an album. Everything from the jagged edges and ramshackle squall that made up Telephono's best moments to the smooth, polished midnight pop of Girls Can Tell, from the raw rock of the earliest tracks to the trippy production tricks of the later albums, is present here, all working together to make one genuinely great album.
And an album it is, great from beginning to end, consistently compelling, full of tracks that are good enough to stand on their own (and undoubtedly many of them will, as singles, on soundtracks, and on forlorn, lovestruck mixtapes and playlists galore) but that integrate tightly into a singular statement. All of the arguments about whether the rock album is a relevant format anymore seem meaningless while it's playing, because as soon as we hit play, we know we won't be going anywhere or doing anything else from the moment the opening notes start until the final echo dies away.
Can't pick a favorite song yet, a track that stands out, because every time, it just ends up as the album's track list. They're all great, all favorites, while they play, and they all play in our head in turn and out of turn, when we're away from my computer. It's an album that has us excited to go out to a record store and buy a physical copy, to pore over the art and listen on headphones in the dark and maybe buy it on vinyl and pick up the Japanese import version for the alternate artwork and track sequencing, and read interviews with the band and maybe write fan letters to them. In other words, it makes us feel a little like teenagers again, new to music, utterly blown away and in awe of something new and awesome.
So, yeah. It's good.