Sunday, 1 May 2022

Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful

1997s 'Ladies & Gentleman ... We Are Floating In Space' was, and always will be Spiritualized's masterwork.
But 2018s 'And Nothing Hurt' came very close to usurping it, and this release maintains that knocking on the door.

There is an argument that 'And Nothing Hurt' could've been a double album with the wealth of material Jason Pierce had at his disposal.  In the end it was a single album, and many of the disregarded demos form the basis of this album - and it shows, there is a nice continuum from the last album, but this is not a collection of tarted up left overs.  Each track is a mini-epic, mini-masterpiece with a range of styles popping in and out - Stones, Stooges, Jazz, Country, Psychedelia, even a passing early solo John Lennon-ish moment (or at least that's what I heard), plus the best song Bobby Gillespie never wrote (and will no doubt be miffed that Jason Pierce beat him to it).  But this album is not about the sounds or the influences, it's about how they're corralled and personalized to create a unique whole that is undoubtedly Spiritualized.  And it also has that trusted (or at least for me anyway) suspense of reality and entry into Spiritualized's world.
The atmospheric building of opener "Always Together With You" draws you in, and you're rooted almost trance like until closer "I'm Coming Home Again" peeps it's last.

7 tracks across 44 minutes - only one dips below 4 minutes (and you want it to be longer), and like all great "long songs" you don't notice the length - "The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)" is 7 minutes magnificently spent, and the closer "I'm Coming Home Again" clocks in at just under 10.

Highlights?  Well, there are 7 of them and it just feels wrong to Spotify cherry pick them and separate them from their siblings.  But it's going to happen, so if I'm pushed I would highlight "Always Together With You", "Crazy" and "The Mainline Song" - but would also implore the listener to explore the other 4 tracks immediately after listening.

The double album idea?  The twin albums take their names from the a line in the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughter House Five ("Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt") - or so the ever reliable interweb informs me.
It's also the title of a Moby album from 2018 - now being the same year as Spitualized's 'And Nothing Hurt' may be a reason for choosing the 2 single albums route.
Would it work as a double?
There is enough commonality and theme and feeling to warrant it, but if it was done as a double album in 2018, I think it may suffer from DoubleAlbum-itis (50% Great, 30% Pretty Good, 20% Needs more work).
However, as 2 distinct releases (with each honed a stand alone release) and played back-to-back this has all the makings of a very fine double.
But it's not a double album - what you have in your grubby little mits (or in your ears more correctly) is an album worthy of investigation, repeated listening and (hopefully) high acclaim when dullards like me start assembling lists in 7 months time.

Always Together With You


The Mainline Song

1 comment:

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