Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Jason Pierce is on a roll. Recovered from a serious illness, and having toured a walk-through of career-defining album Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space, you’d be forgiven for thinking the onetime Jason Spaceman was primed to coast on the laurels of a 25-year career. Instead he’s rattled off the most exciting Spiritualized album in some time. Look no further than Sweet Heart Sweet Light’s nine-minute doozy of an opener. “Hey Jane” cunningly integrates virtually every touchstone that’s energized the degenerate fringes of rock music for the past 35 years – or at least the ones appropriated by the post-punk underground:

Paean to the most storied girl’s name in rock, with all its druggy subtext? Check

Velvet Underground-style trance/strum? Check (with bonus points for the album title allusion)

Exile on Main Street Delta blues cribbing? Check

Soaring female gospel backing vocals? Check

A Johnny Thunders blend of debauchery/fragility? Check

Motorik churn? Check

Hummable melody? Check

A prog-style two-movement composition that actually builds upon its musical themes? Check

An opening salvo like “Hey Jane” threatens to render the rest of Sweet Heart Sweet Light moot, but Pierce isn’t through. “Little Girl” is every bit as good, a letter-perfect channeling of ’70s orchestral soul. He eventually hits a few soft patches (the sitar on the middling “Get What You Deserve” feels hokey and dated) but they can be excused as almost necessary breathers.

Ladies and Gentlemen is the clear template for Sweet Heart Sweet Light and while I won’t go as far as to say this latest Spiritualized outing is better, it’s certainly coming from a well of inspiration rather than mere rehash.

Sweet Heart Sweet Light
[Fat Possum]