Top positive review
A noisy blast, and, hopefully, a hint of new directions
on July 1, 2004
Just looking at the cover of this album - what I assume is Jason Pierce's arm, free of track marks - shows that some attempt is being made to escape past demons here. Not entirely successfully, I'd say. But the sound of this album is, to be sure, quite a break from the direction of Spiritualized's prior two offerings. Stripped down, raucus, noisy - this sounds closer to Pierce's old Spacemen 3 days than anything I've heard from him in a while.
Does it work? Sort of. As I said, Pierce can't quite let go of the demons. Perhaps because he suspects that, without herion and heartbreak, he wouldn't have anything to write about. (Which I hope is not the case). Whatever the case, the first half of the album is, while enjoyable and noisy (and yes, the second track has quite a clever name indeed), nothing all that new. It's almost as though, by stripping down, Pierce is revealing that he's been playing around with the same few song structures that he's been using for years.
Then, following the obligatory free-jazz joint 'The Power & The Glory,' things start to get more interesting. 'Lord Let it Rain on Me' uses the familiar gospel sound that Pierce has empoyed before, but weds it to a somewhat more conventional structure, resulting in another surprisingly successful flirtation with a pop song. 'The Ballad of Richie Lee' is unlike anything I've yet heard from Pierce - throbbing bass, atonal strings, semi-rhythmic distorted guitar, the usual anguished murmurs - it's quite good indeed.
And the rest of the album seems to follow in this vein, loosening up, and starting to branch out a bit. It's a weird, almost disjointed listen. I enjoy it, but it's not a masterpiece. What it is, I hope, is the taste of Spiritualized's future - a little more mature, a little looser, a little more thoughtful. Maybe Pierce just needed to one last blast at the demons. This gives me hope for the future and for coming albums.