Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Written in Reverse” by Spoon from their new 2010 album Transference (out today!) on Merge Records.
Austin, Texas, band Spoon have been perennial favorites at KEXP since their beginning. In fact, it was just the other day we dusted off our vinyl copy of their amazing sophomore album, A Series of Sneaks, to give it another good listen. You might call it “listening in reverse” but it’s still amazing to hear how much the band has progressed and managed to stay relevant over the years. Since forming in 1993, Spoon has put out a catalog of quality recordings, most recently including their brand new 7th full-length album, Transference, steadily climbing their way not only to the tops of indie charts, but now to the mainstream alternative charts as well. All the while, they haven’t mainstreamed their sound... quite the opposite actually.
Admittedly rawer and more spontaneous than their previous material, Transference was an album created with a new slate and new ideas. Most of the songs have barely left the state they began as demos... if at all! And the controlling tendency tends to pare down rather than build up. Beyond songwriter Britt Daniels’ occasional delay effect on his vocals, you won’t find much layering here at all. And perhaps their greatest achievement on the new album is merely the way it was recorded. Instead of working with fancy studios or high profile producers, the band chose to record on their own, preferring single takes with a live band to overdubbing and over-recording.
Today’s Song of the Day, “Written in Reverse,” the first single from the new album, exemplifies the approach: its opening piano chords seem the quick warm up a rusty player player reassures his hands with, just before the very deliberate melody kicks in. Pared down, though, does not equate spare or boring. The song pumps, Daniels shouts, and it’s ultimately the same jerky, rockin’ Spoon you’ve loved all along. It’s refreshing to see a band at the height of their career, when they have all the tools in the shed at their disposal, decide to make something a little more simple.
The band is currently on tour in Europe and will return to the States this March. And, if you were listening to the on-air ticket giveaways last week, you’ll know that Spoon is scheduled to play two nights in Seattle at the Moore Theatre in April. You can find out more on their website or listen to additional tracks on their MySpace page. Oh, and Spoon are on Conan O’Brien tonight, so be sure to check that out.
“Written in Reverse,” like several others on the new album, has been a hold-over just waiting for the right moment. Here’s a live recording of the song from September of 2008: