CD review: Spiritualized
Wed, Apr 25, 2012 (5:30 p.m.)
- Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Spiritualized rose from the ashes of influential ’80s psych-rock band Spacemen 3. The former retains elements of the latter—mainly, sprawling songs and a propensity for noisy rave-ups—but typically incorporates strings, piano, gospel harmonies, ambient electro and other heavenly flourishes, most notably on 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.
The U.K. band’s newest full-length, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, contains plenty of those hymn-like moments, from the Motown-lite “Little Girl” to the string-bursting, angelic “Life Is a Problem.” Still, the album is most effective when frontman Jason Pierce matches his grizzled-preacher vocals to the music—the grimy, distortion-fueled gospel number “I Am What I Am” and organ-drenched, distraught blues dirge “Mary” are highlights—or unfurls bracing rock jags: the fierce guitar freakout “Headin’ for the Top Now” and the deep-grooved, Velvet Underground-esque stunner “Hey Jane.” Still, because Light lacks the concise song structures and streamlined chaos of past Spiritualized LPs, it feels more like a dilettante’s project than a cohesive whole.