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Undoubtedly, two of the biggest names of the last decade’s indie rock and electronica were Spoon and Four Tet. In this week’s City Paper, our critics take a look at their new records and how each act is faring at the dawn of the 2010s.
Spoon’s Transference leaves Marc Hirsh underwhelmed:
Transference is larded with bits and scraps, which isn’t necessarily new—it’s practically all that 2002’s Kill the Moonlight was. Here, though, the scrappy pieces are presented as finished thoughts rather than experiments, and that’s where the trouble starts. “I Saw the Light” provides a keen demonstration: After a couple of minutes of a simplified glam shuffle, it tacks on an unrelated extended coda built around a repeated melody snippet played first on piano and then expanded to guitar. Like much of Transference, it’s a good idea in need of a song around it.
Mike Kanin has kinder words for Four Tet’s There Is Love in You:
And though this recording sometimes suggests a return to its producer’s more melodically expansive tendencies, it also features some of Hebden’s most well-crafted stabs at the minimalist techno he was always meant to create. Take “Love Cry,” the album’s lead single. After a minute-plus wombidillic intro—designed, it seems, to allow for easy turntable transition—the thing launches forward with a set of beats as clean and focused as anything Hebden has ever done. As it grooves forward, the track picks up momentum, first mixing in vocals—a Hebden first—and then a repetitive synth-bass line that calls to mind some of the better, odd-disco-rooted techno minimalism of recent years. With “Love Cry,” Hebden’s got himself an honest-to-God hit.