Listen to This! was conceptualized as a feature which would recommend albums worth exploring, but this week is an exception.
Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Release date: April 17
Britain’s Spiritualized, forged from the remains of Spacemen 3, have been known for their signature style, one which is pointedly studio heavy, having dabbled in space-pop with a repetitive backbone that is also partially indebted to shoegaze. Sweet Heart Sweet Light keeps the repetitive theme going, but there is very little interesting music being repeated here.
Album opener ‘Huh?’ is a slightly deceptive track, as it suggests what lies ahead might be an experimental space-pop record. In truth you should consider this little more than the audio test which used to grace the beginning of audio casettes that remind you of listening to music in your dad’s Corolla.
‘Hey Jane’ follows that up and is more jubilant and upbeat than we’re used to Spiritualized sounding. Jane was the track the band used to tease the album, and with good reason. This eight minute song could be a Beatles track with different vocals. A strong guitar line sets the tone and is smothered with further instrumentation, including keys being wailed upon throughout.
This would be all well and good if the rest of the album took off from this point, but Sweet Heart has the motivation of a sloth, and second track ‘Little Girl’ is the epitome of that. A dreary monotonous song, this is a sign of things to come.
Fortunately ‘Get What You Deserve’ comes next and is one of only a couple highlights to be had. That positive comes from a rather fed up sounding Jason Pierce, who repeats, ‘going to shoot you when you’re laying down’ and ‘used to care but I took care of that’. The second of the first three songs to end with a swell that harkens back to acts like Mercury Rev, the feeling of deja vu is already in full flight.
Following in that vein of the anti-love song is ‘Too Late’ a track which apes the title track from 1997′s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Only here, instead of pining for ‘a little bit of love to take the pain away’. Pierce admist that it’s ‘too late, something I’ve learned, love lights the flame, when it’s hearts that get burned’.
What follows ‘Too Late’ are four songs which might as well be the same one, or, for the benefit of listeners, not exist at all.
Fortunately album closer ‘So Long You Pretty Thing’ is a genuine song, not only is it interesting but hey, it features a beginning, middle and end. Not that songs need those elements -at all- but when they aren’t breaking new ground they should at least traverse the entirety of that old, familiar terrain.
As mentioned above, the band released a great album 15 years ago, and an equally awesome debut two decades, they’ve earned the respect and adulation of many listeners, but this album stands as a blemish on their record.