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Spoon stirs up plenty of emotion on 'Transference'

Britt Daniel of Spoon performs during day one

Britt Daniel of Spoon performs during day one of San Diego Street Scene festival. (Sept. 19, 2008) Credit: Getty Images

Spoon's winning streak just keeps going.

After releasing four consistently exceptional albums in The Aughts - "Girls Can Tell," "Kill the Moonlight," "Gimme Fiction" and the mainstream breakthrough "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" - Spoon has another winner in "Transference" (Merge).

Though there isn't an uplifting breakout hit like "Ga's" "The Underdog" this time out, "Transference" is a far more potent work as a whole. As the first self-produced Spoon album, it reflects a more insular take on today's darker emotional times, with taut bass lines and jagged shards of guitar soothed by the repetition of the sound of Britt Daniel's voice - though not necessarily his sometimes disturbing lyrics - and in Jim Eno's drumming.

"Who Makes Your Money" comes across as the mix of trip-hop and rock that U2 was looking for on "No Line on the Horizon." The first single, "Written in Reverse," is a brash push-pull of angst and comfort, bouncing between piano jumble and classic rock guitar riffs. The closest Spoon gets to letting loose is the groove-dominated "The Mystery Zone."

But that's OK; Spoon handles tension very well, especially when it winds up masterfully on the stylish "Out Go the Lights," before unspooling into a moody outro that out-Joy Divisions the band Interpol.

Spoon chooses the stark and austere, turning inward and letting musical layers dissolve where most artists would have opted for a flashier turn. Yet, it's the simplicity of the melodies and rhythms on "Transference" that makes it all the more memorable.

SPOON "Transference"

Grade: A-

Bottom line: Simply mining a rock groove well

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