Spoon will always be Spoon, but the indie group’s seventh studio album, Transference, makes you feel like your are listening to Spork.

The careful manipulations of sound, along with the flow of the album, reflect the smooth, carefully sculpted side of Spoon that will never hurt you. However, Transference is raw enough to prick you with its prongs and make you feel things you never thought Spoon could make you feel.

All the things you loved about Spoon are still here — Britt Daniel’s dead-on, sometimes sandpapery vocals and his scratchy guitar solos, the fat bass lines and Jim Eno’s simple, yet, always appropriate percussion. How it sounds as a whole, though, has changed.

Spoon doesn’t hold back with sound experimentation. Most songs on Transference blend crystal clear hi-fi tracks with effect-filled tracks. On “Trouble Comes Running” the drums and guitar tracks are lo-fi, while the lead and backup vocals come clean through the mix.

Other times on Transference, the guitar distortion is tweaked, or the piano is treated with an interesting reverb effect. “Goodnight Laura” is a slower piano and voice-oriented ballad that contains keys that sound part underwater and part harp-like. It is difficult to describe, but these moments of effect wizardry demonstrate Spoon’s studio mastery. Whenever effects are used on the album, it is always fitting and never disturbs the mix. These production choices give Transference its own unique sound.

That being said, Transference may not be for everybody. Spoon fans looking for another catchy single like “I Turn My Camera On” or “The Way We Get By” will not find it. “Written in Reverse” and “Got Nuffin” add a lot to Transference, but the album is better as a whole and no songs really stick out after a few listens. This may be in part to a lack of bite in Britt Daniel’s lyrics this time around. For example, the bridge in “Written in Reverse” is commanded by Daniel singing, “All I Know/ Is All I Know/ Yes All I Know/ Is All I Know.” Usually, simplicity is best, but these lines among others in this tune just don’t seem to deliver the knockout punch expected from the usual poppy Spoon single.

Luckily for Daniel, he can always deliver a performance, and that’s more important. His vocals are excellent on this album. Listeners will be better off aurally absorbing the composition as a whole rather than analyzing the lyrics. Transference is meant to be an experience.

The most exciting parts of Spoon’s latest effort are the instrumental interludes and group cohesiveness. The last 30 seconds or so of “Written in Reverse” sound like the song is falling apart, but then all the parts come back together to hit hard. The piano-focused interlude in “I Saw the Light” keeps building up speed and then drives you straight into a ditch, waiting to be picked up by the high energy “Trouble Comes Running.”

It is the orchestrated ups and downs of Transference, along with the thoughtful execution of raw song writing mixed with the concept of an emotional time warp that make Transference worth, at the very least, a half dozen listens.

Spoon may have a good number of albums in the bag, but Transference seems to give the band a new kind of momentum. This evolution is not exactly a fresh start, but it is enough to propel Spoon towards even newer ventures.

4 stars out of 5.