Transference

Music review by
Jacqueline Rupp, Common Sense Media
Transference Music Poster Image
Indie rock that's fine for older tweens and teens.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Abstract thoughts largely dominate the album; however, there are some comforting thoughts, like on "Goodnight Laura," which includes reassuring lines such as, "Your worries are meant to stop for now, you know they're not for keeping, if you want to fall asleep, be very still, and you close your eyes and slow yourself and let your worry leave you, and let go of it all just for this evening,
Alright."

Positive Role Models & Representations

A few songs talk about the exclusivity of love, such as the self-explanatory "Nobody Gets Me But You," but there's also some insight into human nature: "And when that light turns back again, You will remember the way, they fall for you like a brick, oh but nobody loves you, or woos you when you're down..."

Consumerism

The single "The Mystery Zone" was a Starbucks/iTunes "Pick of the Week" in the first days of the album's release.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a rock album that's perfectly safe for interested young fans. Although a lot of kids won't get the hypnotic, repetitive sound of some of the songs and might be turned off by the lack of hooks or choruses, there's nothing objectionable to be found here. A few mentions of love are about as risqué as this album gets, and violence and profanity aren't noticeably absent. The alternative sound sets the tone for lyrics that are neither aggressive nor depressing, just floating somewhere in the realms of the psyche.

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What's the story?

Having been together for over 15 years, Spoon has amassed a string of successful albums. TRANSFERENCE marks the band's seventh release, and brings together all of the indie-rock sounds that the group has become known for. There aren't a whole lot of lyrics, although there's enough to get the band's point across. The band seems interested in creating an atmosphere for these ideas, using instrumentals and audio effects, rather than just stating them outright in a repeated chorus.

Is it any good?

Definitely give this album some time to grow on you. It's not an immediately accessible LP, and sometimes one track can flow into the next. But, with time, like flowers that individually blossom in a field, each little musical gem comes to shine. The production level here is simplistic, and for that matter, so is the songwriting. But what has made Spoon so effective on the indie scene is that the band genuinely knows what our ears want to hear and doesn't succumb to whining or pretension. Rock tracks are interspersed with more daring devices like the ultra-sweet lullaby "Goodnight Laura" and the hip-hop infused "Who Makes Your Money." Few fans should be able to resist the cool confidence found on "The Mystery Zone," and although the undulating beats can get a bit tiresome on "Written in Reverse," other songs like "Trouble Comes Running," with its honky-tonk rock sound, save the day.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about romantic relationships and setting boundaries for how serious they get. On a few songs, the band struggles with love and the idea of someone being irreplaceable. Do you think teens sometimes fall too deeply in love without understanding the consequences or lose perspective over someone? Is sexting an example of how these emotions can lead to trouble?

  • Do you think a toned-down band like Spoon can be popular when there is so much over-the-top music on the market today? What do you think about this band's decision to not include anything inappropriate on its latest album? Do you think this was done purposely to appeal to a larger audience, or do you think such inappropriate stuff just wasn't necessary? Are there some musicians who add racy content just to get listeners' attention?

  • Talk about music lyrics. If the lyrics aren't easily understood, does that mean they require further investigation? Parents, do you think sometimes that your kids won't "get" certain lyrics, so that makes them okay? Kids, do you understand the message of more lyrics than your parents think you do?

Music details

  • Artist: Spoon
  • Release date: January 15, 2010
  • Label: Merge
  • Genre: Alternative Rock
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No

For kids who love thoughtful tunes

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