Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Spiritualized: Songs in A&E
release: May 27, 2008
style: Spiritualized
[rating: **] The last Spiritualized album, Amazing Grace, primarily took cues from proto-garage rock 'n roll, with only a handful of songs (which were the much better ones) maintaining the gospel-symphony vision. The rest was out of the band's comfort zone, a major let down. Now it looks like leader Jason Pierce has gotten that out of his system. In fact, before this album Pierce was already taking Spiritualized on the road for a minimal, acoustic set. Songs in A&E--interspersed by brief assorted interludes--stems from that direction. There is acoustic guitar and some symphony for "Soul on Fire," the first single and one of the better soul-searching pieces. There are some songs that rock out too, with "You Lie and Cheat" at the top. It features the choir and guitar noise, so you can't go wrong. The usual wordings from Pierce litters the collection (Jesus, fire, waves, drug references). "Baby I'm a Fool" is another "Walking with Jesus," though with an injection of folk and less sadness. "Sitting on Fire" is a sad love song with acoustic guitar and passages such as "it's so hard to fight when you're losing/and i gotta little tear in my soul/and in my own time i am dying/i can't even hold what i own." The problem with Songs is that Pierce sounds weary, like he hasn't fully recovered from being hospitalized. This is reflected in the songwriting. Before you know it, the morose though strangely optimistic "Borrowed Your Gun" nears the completion of the record and the emptiness in the heart is still very much present. Songs is indeed tender, though the sixth proper album lacks assurance and isn't going to make any breakthrough like 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen, nor is it pristine like Pure Phase or Lazer Guided Melodies. For a Spiritualized album, it's just okay when compared to those others. Oh and if you read other reviews stating that this is the best work since Ladies and Gentlemen, fudge that. Ask them if they ever listened to Let it Come Down. Serious fans should really get the original CD, with a fold-out of lyrics on one side and medical life-support tools on the other. -Kenyon

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