Two by two, reviews for you.
Spoon- Transference (***½)
Every PBR swilling hipster is swooning over Spoon’s newest album, and on the surface, it’s easy to see why. Straddling the line between sophisticated experimentalism and raucous rock n’ roll, Spoon stay consistent on Transference, their 7th overall album. “The Mystery Zone” throbs along with Rob Pope’s steady and impending bass, while Brit Daniel’s sturdy voice pops against upstroked guitar and dreamy keyboards. This time around, Spoon’s sound is clearly focused on rhythm, with many of Transference’s greatest moments being held together by Pope’s consistent bass work. Elsewhere, “Written In Reverse” relishes in Eric Harvey’s percussive ivories and Daniel’s best Paul McCartney impression as he sings, “I’ll write this to you in reverse!/Someone better call a hearse!” Spoon flaunts their rock n' roll roots proudly throughout Transference, but their energy isn’t always front and center. The group straddles the line of being accessible and avant-garde so much that it’s easy to write off the tracks that don’t come with big hooks. The lo-fi acoustics of “Trouble” and the meandering piano of “Goodnight Laura” slow the album down to a crawl, making listeners impatient for the group’s next effervescent ode to old school rock. Thankfully, Spoon delivers with the late album pick-me-up of “Got Nuffin,” featuring pulsing bass, cutting guitar work, and persistent drum rolls. Such a track will help casual Spoon fans with the bitter aftertaste Transference leaves behind, the taste of an album that contains mere flashes of brilliance that could have been so much more.
Key Cuts: The Mystery Zone, Written In Reverse, Got Nuffin
Alkaline Trio- This Addiction (***½)
Since Akaline Trio paired up with late Jerry Finn, fans have screamed for the group to return to their unofficial “glory days” of From Here To Infirmary. While This Addiction might not be as stripped down and back-to-basics as fans might have hoped for, it’s clear that Alkaline Trio made a conscious decision to revisit the sound that made them a household name. The album’s title track starts things off nicely with Matt Skiba’s buzz saw guitar, Dan Andriano’s driving bass, and Derek Grant’s skate punk drums. Elsewhere, the loopy chug of “Fine” and the biting stomp of “Piss & Vinegar” show how the Trio have been able to revisit their old sound while incorporating the more focused hooks of their later material. On the whole, This Addiction is a less polished effort than the Trio’s last 2 records, and this lean approach has helped revitalize the band. Skiba’s guitar retains some necessary grit while Andriano’s bass growls, a welcome change from the hyper slick compression on 2007’s Agony & Irony. Sadly, however, This Addiction falls short in some crucial ways. For as stripped down as the record sounds, Alkaline Trio make the occasional instrumental blunder with runaway synthesizers (“Eating Me Alive”) and out of place trumpet solos (“Lead Poisoning”). Additionally, Andriano only sings 3 songs compared to Skiba’s 9, the imbalance painting Matt Skiba as a tired songwriter. The woe-is-me politics of “The American Scream” and haunted house drawl of “Dorothy” ruin otherwise solid arrangements with tired lines like, “Found you on your doorstep/Undressed to the nines/From your Sunday best/Black and blue velvet dress/Your head’s a mess and so is mine…” Flaws aside, however, This Addiction is a step in the right direction for Alkaline Trio. The acidic guitar hum and climbing bass of “Dead On The Floor” remind listeners why we’re addicted to Alkaline Trio in the first place: They’re just 3 guys that capture death obsessed, boozed-out pessimism better than anyone else.
Key Cuts: This Addiction, Dead On The Floor, Fine
Monday, February 8, 2010
Two by two, reviews for you.