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Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Space rockers’ seventh is a paean to the music they love
Craig Fitzpatrick, 14 May 2012
Explaining his rationale for leaking an unfinished advance copy of his band’s seventh studio effort earlier in the year, Jason Pierce (that’s Mr. Spaceman to you) smiled, “With the reviews, sometimes it’s like they’ve got a different album anyway”. Well, we’re fairly certain we now possess the final mix marked Sweet Heart Sweet Light and we’re happy to say that it’s rather splendid. Four years on from the impressive Songs In A + E, the latest offering is inspired by a recent live return to 1997’s seminal Ladies And Gentleman… and a desire to be more direct and poppy. The result is a record that generally steers clear of the glorious white noise of old, putting the frontman’s voice front and centre. In many ways, it encapsulates all that makes Spiritualized great.
A brief orchestral opener gives way to the exhilarating nine-minute chug through Lou Reed Land that is ‘Hey Jane’; hypnotic one-chord drone rock sits alongside lovelorn piano paeans that clutch soul and gospel close to their chest. If this brings a downside, it is that occasionally Pierce seems to be phoning it in. The straight-ahead rockers are strong, but a quick glance at the back catalogue throws up similar songs of a superior nature. Lyrically, he’s worrying about not getting to heaven, hitting the tiles and fawning over some girl called Mary’s “healing hands”.
The real highlights lie in the poppier moments. ‘Little Girl’ is a glorious, sighing winner with a peach of a chorus. ‘Too Late’ will make you ache, and then hit repeat. ‘I Am What I Am’ is Talking Heads’ ‘Slippery People’ dragged through a swamp, like David Byrne taking narcotics to scare away the jitters. And the closer sums it all up. Like many of Pierce’s most tender moments, ‘So Long You Pretty Things’ is essentially a modern nursery rhyme, his fragile voice whispering a melody tailor-made to soothe the soul. An ode to the healing power of music, its argument is made in practice, as the song shimmers along, dancing slowly in your ear.