Spiritualized - Amazing Grace
Reviewed by Graeme on 7th September 2003
From the moment Jason Pierce quit Spacemen 3 and formed Spiritualized, three things have always been constant in his music - gut wrenching melancholy, drugs and increasingly grandiose music. This culminated in 2001's epic Let It Come Down, which took four years to write and was recorded with a complete orchestra (after Pierce had decided to fire his entire band).
Quite what happened next is a mystery, but Spiritualized have returned with a raw and stripped down sound which, intentional or not, just happens to fit in perfectly with today's garage rock climate.
It all begins with opening track This Little Life Of Mine, a pastiche of the similarly named hymn. Seemingly a reaction to the criticism of Let It Come Down's bloated sound, the song is rife with ugly distortion and is gutted by feedback hooks throughout. This tone is continued on lead single She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit), Never Going Back and the fantastic Cheapster.
The real beauty of the album however, is when Pierce combines his old heartache songwriting with his new musical ethic. This is most perfectly realised on the tearjerking Hold On, which really has to be heard to be believed. The mournful, introspective tracks are the perfect compliment to the fierce rock tracks, and arguably push the album past the heights of 1997's legendary Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. The album does have a lowpoint however, and it comes through a return to that old Spiritualized favourite, free jazz. Placed right in the middle of the album, The Power And The Glory is a painfully needless instrumental workout, and brings the album down a notch.
Jason Pierce has never quite managed to achieve the status his music deserves (despite almost unanimous critical acclaim, no Spiritualized album has topped a million sales), and despite his current music being most definitely in-vogue, it is unlikely this album will change that fact. The bottom line however, is that Amazing Grace simply blows away every single one of the young garage rock pretenders from America around right now. And for that it should be heard by all.
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